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Repetitive Strain Injury of the Upper Arm or Shoulder

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Last updated June 11, 2022

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

1

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.
2

When you may need a provider

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

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

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.

Take repetitive strain injury of the upper arm or shoulder quiz

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.

Symptoms

Treatment

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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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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