The Most Common Repetitive Stress Injuries in Children and Teens October 18 2017

The Most Common Repetitive Stress Injuries in Children and Teens

The rise in the use of everyday technology and increased use of handheld devices has made it so almost everyone runs the risk of enduring a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). This can especially affect the younger generations since their bodies are already under tension from the growth of their muscles and tendons. Children and teen’s injuries are also more likely to be dismissed as “growing pains” and if neglected, can become permanent pains.


Common conditions that children and teens can develop, similar to adults, include tendonitis, bursitis, and even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.


Tendonitis – inflammation of a tendon.
Bursitis – inflammation of a bursa, a pouch or vesicle containing synovia to facilitate motion between a tendon and a bone.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a common disorder of the wrist and hand characterized by pain, tingling, and muscular weakness, caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist area.


    Each of these conditions causes pain and swelling of the joints and if left untreated can result in temporary or long-term restriction of motion of those joints. Teens are especially at risk since they tend to exacerbate injuries where growth plates occur, a place where the bones regenerate and get longer.


    The two most common behaviors linked to RSI in children and adolescents are:


    Overuse of Technology


    Computers, video games, and cellular phones are all linked to extended keyboard use known to lead to tendonitis, bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Proper posture is essential with wrists and lower arms making a 90-degree angle with the upper arm. Feet should be rested flat on the floor. If the child or teen has trouble reaching the floor with their feet, add a footrest.


    Computers are generally designed to fit adult bodies, so their very use can cause injuries in children. Having a monitor too high or a keyboard just out of reach can cause discomfort and injuries over time. An adjustable monitor arm can make monitor height and distance easily adjustable across different body sizes. An adjustable office chair with ergonomic features such as lumbar support will encourage proper posture. A child or adolescent’s head should be parallel to the top of the screen.


    Constant text messaging also contributes to hand and wrist injuries. Children and teens should try to avoid texting for extended periods of time and should stop if they begin to feel discomfort or pain. Alternating hands can help remove stress from some joints.


    Carrying Too Much Weight


    Overloaded backpacks are a known problem for children and teens. At most, a child should only carry 15 – 20% of his or her body weight in a backpack. Some doctors may even recommend only 10% of their body weight to ensure a safe weight that doesn’t harm the spine or lower back. Heavy items should always be placed at the bottom of the backpack to even the load. If possible, leave any items not needed for a few hours in a locker or classroom.


    An ergonomic backpack has a structure that can help prevent back injuries. Wide, padded straps help to distribute weight across the shoulders and a waist strap shifts the weight to the hips. Additional smaller compartments keep the weight evenly distributed across the backpack and keep them in place.


    Increase in academic pressure and the use of technological devices in school have left children and adolescents vulnerable to developing RSIs now more than ever. Parents and teachers can help prevent injuries through teaching proper techniques and postures as well as increasing the use of child friendly ergonomic equipment.