As offices began replacing their typewriters with computers during the 1980s, it did not take very long before a number of employees started feeling crippling pain and weakness in their hand, wrist and elbow, due to repetitive keyboard work. This feeling of pain and weakness required many to wear an arm splint, while missing work at the same time; others, however, who suffered worse conditions, necessitated surgery. This injury, which is due to repetition of the same motions for hours everyday, is called repetitive stress injury (RSI).

RSI was first reported in the U.S. in 1912, being called “telegraphists’ cramp” back then. As the name suggests, the injury was suffered by telegraph operators who developed the mysterious ailment due to doing repetitive taps on telegraph keys. During World War I, the injury was given the name, “glass arm,” which affected Morse Code operators. Many other types of workers were later diagnosed with repetitive motion injuries including, assembly line workers, construction workers, meat packers, seamstresses and manufacturing workers. From the 1980s and onwards, though, when computers started becoming regular equipment in offices, the bulk of reported repetitive stress injuries shifted to computer operators.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, RSI, also called repetitive motion injury (RMI), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs), is now one of the most common workplace injuries. Its new victims, besides computer operators, include grocery bar code scanners/checkers, phone operators, who usually support a telephone receiver between his/her neck and shoulder, and workers in static posturing for long periods, like airline mechanics, who crawl and have to work while in a twisted position.

Repetitive motion injury attorneys, like those from the law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, encourages those who suspect that they may have developed a repetitive motion injury to seek medical attention immediately as failure to do so can worsen their condition. It is also advisable that they file a Workers’ Compensation claim that could allow them the freedom to adequately recover from their injury.