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Repetitive strain injury
  1. P S Helliwell1,
  2. W J Taylor2
  1. 1Musculoskeletal Academic Unit, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Philip Helliwell
 Musculoskeletal Academic Unit, University of Leeds, 36 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9NZ, UK;


Pain in the forearm is relatively common in the community. In the workplace forearm pain is associated with work involving frequent repetition, high forces, and prolonged abnormal postures. Nevertheless, other factors are involved in the presentation and the continuation of the pain. Notable among these factors are psychosocial issues and the workplace environment—the attitude to workers and their welfare, the physical conditions, and design of the job. Primary prevention may be effective but active surveillance is important with early intervention and an active management approach. Physical treatments have not been extensively evaluated. In the established case, management should be multidisciplinary, addressing physical aspects of the job but also addressing the “yellow, blue, and black flags” which should be viewed as obstacles to recovery. For the worker “on sick” a dialogue should be established between the worker, the primary care physician, and the workplace. Return to work should be encouraged and facilitated by medical interventions and light duty options. Rehabilitation programmes may be of use in chronic cases.

  • DEA, disability employment advisor
  • RDS, Regional Disability Service
  • RSI, repetitive strain injury
  • occupation
  • psychosocial factors
  • repetitive strain injury

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