Overuse and Repetitive Motion Injuries: Care Instructions

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When you use one part of your body in the same way over and over again, it can put too much stress on your joints, muscles, or other tissues. This can cause an overuse injury. You may have pain, swelling, or tenderness in that part of your body.

There are many different kinds of overuse injuries. You could get one from doing a sport or activity. Or you could get one from something you do at work. For example, you may get elbow pain from frequent lifting. Or you may get wrist pain from typing all day.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to ease pain. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • If your doctor gave you a splint, use it exactly as directed.
  • Ask your doctor about physical or occupational therapy. These can help you learn how to do tasks differently.
  • Return to your usual activities slowly.
  • Rest the area that hurts. You may need to stop or reduce the activity that causes your symptoms. Then you can return to it slowly.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have new symptoms, such as numbness or weakness.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.