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Repetitive Strain Injury of the Upper Arm or Shoulder

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Last updated May 24, 2024

Repetitive strain injury of the upper arm or shoulder quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your repetitive strain injury of the upper arm or shoulder.

Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • A mild to moderate repetitive strain injury can often be treated at home.
  • OTC pain relievers and other at-home strategies, like rest and ice, can help your pain.
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • The pain is severe or you still have pain after about 1–2 weeks of home treatments.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling that’s getting worse
  • Extreme pain
  • Discoloration
  • You can’t move your arm

What is a repetitive strain injury?

Repetitive strain injuries are extremely common. Upper arm and shoulder strains commonly occur in athletes or laborers who use their arm and shoulder muscles in the same way every day.

Causes of a repetitive strain injury include fast and repetitive movements, working in cold conditions, and not allowing the body to properly recover after strenuous activities. Repetitive strains can be caused by simple tasks such as reaching for objects high on shelves, cleaning, or throwing a ball.

The muscles, tendons, joints, and nerves in the arm can all be damaged with a repetitive strain injury. It’s important to treat it early so it doesn’t get worse. When left untreated, pain can become permanent.



The first step is to avoid further strain on the area. You can use over-the-counter pain medications for the pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) can also help reduce swelling and inflammation.

A physical therapist may be recommended to help regain a full range of motion. Warm water soaked in Epsom salts can also help reduce stiffness and ease the pain of arm and shoulder strains.

Ready to treat your repetitive strain injury of the upper arm or shoulder?

We show you only the best treatments for your condition and symptoms—all vetted by our medical team. And when you’re not sure what’s wrong, Buoy can guide you in the right direction.See all treatment options
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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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