As one of the most common workplace injuries, repetitive strain or motion injuries affect thousands of workers every day. As a workers’ compensation doctor, I’ve seen more repetitive strain injury symptoms than I can count. Whether a patient can claim workers’ compensation for one of these injuries depends largely on how quickly they can identify and report them, which means knowing the signs is very important.

Before we get into the symptoms of repetitive strain injury, I just want to mention a few common repetitive strain injuries. These include:

  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dystonia
  • Epicondylitis

These first two conditions, bursitis and tendinitis, are the most common and can even exist in the same affected area at the same time. Like the conditions that they signal, repetitive strain injury symptoms can require different treatments, so it’s critical to consult with a physician before treating them yourself. You should look out for the following four symptoms and then talk with your doctor.


Depending on the type of injury you’re experiencing, you may feel pain at the site of the injury. For example, tendinitis can be very painful, especially when you continue moving the affected tendon. With bursitis of the hip, you may feel pain when walking or lying on the affected side. For severe pain, seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Pain and tenderness are similar repetitive strain injury symptoms, but there is one small difference. While pain can occur with or without use, tenderness is a specific type of pain associated with touching the affected area. Tenderness is a common symptom of bursitis and epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow.


The third of our repetitive strain injury symptoms is swelling. Swelling occurs because of an influx of fluid to the site of an injury, whether internal or external. It is actually a good sign because it signals that the body is protecting itself by flooding the damaged area with white blood cells.

Loss of Range of Motion

Many repetitive strain injuries result in a decrease or complete loss of range of motion for the affected area. Lost range of motion can signal injuries beyond repetitive strain injuries, so be sure to contact your doctor if you experience it because you could require medical intervention to fix it.

Treating Repetitive Strain Injury Symptoms

Though you should consult with a doctor to figure out how to treat your injury, you can reduce your symptoms at home until you make an appointment. Simple treatments including elevating and immobilizing the affected area can help. You can also reduce pain and swelling by applying ice periodically to your injury. To ice your injury, wrap a bag of ice or an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the site of pain or swelling for 20 to 30 minutes two to three times per day.

Need help figuring out what your repetitive strain injury symptoms mean?

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and think your work might be the cause, contact us today. We can help you get the compensation you deserve so that you can make a full recovery.