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Repetitive Strain Injury of the Upper Arm or Shoulder

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Last updated December 7, 2021

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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 to 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 soaks in Epsom salts can also help reduce stiffness and ease the pain of arm and shoulder strains.

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