A repetitive stress injury, as the name suggests, occurs when micro-trauma is consistently caused to a specific part of the musculoskeletal system.
Since repetitive stress syndrome is a culmination of repeated strain or force to the muscles, tendons or nerves, it is common for this condition to be sometimes referred to as “cumulative trauma disorder”.
Repeated pressure on any soft tissue structure can be related to certain occupational tasks or athletic activities, which involve stressful muscular exertions or awkward body postures to be undertaken on a daily basis.
Cyclic tensile loads lead to micro-tears in the tendon fibres, which alters the structure of the tendon causing pain and inflammation (tendonitis) in the region.
These microscopic tears are unable to heal because of the lack of sufficient recovery time between the forceful exertions.
The accumulated abrasion, combined with short duration of rest, manifests in the form of pain, tenderness and inflammation in the affected region over time.
In the case of a patient with an underlying biomechanical problem, the continuous traumatic motions in addition to the abnormal movement of the feet and body, hasten the development of a host of repetitive stress injuries or overuse injuries.
Conservative treatment of such injuries would involve a reduction in workload and/or participation in intense forms of exercise that could further aggravate the condition.
With plenty of rest, application of ice packs, compression and elevation of the injured site, there should be a significant reduction in pain and swelling (if any) and the patient should be able to recover mobility in a short period of time.
Individually designed stretching exercises should be undertaken as soon as inflammation has reduced, as this will reduce myospasms and promote lymphatic drainage and improved blood flow.
It is also necessary to address any structural problems of the foot in order to eradicate compensatory movements that could further exacerbate pressure on the joints, muscles and tendons of the lower limbs.
By optimally re-distributing pressure in the lower limbs and re-aligning the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body, supportive foot devices can be used as a preventative measure to protect against kinetic chain dysfunction.
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Repetitive plantarflexion can lead to pain and mechanical limitation in the posterior ankle joint which is known as posterior ankle impingement syndrome. This pathology commonly occurs in ballet dancers and football players.