'Repetition strain injury': an Australian epidemic of upper limb pain

Soc Sci Med. 1988;27(6):645-9. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(88)90013-5.


An analysis is provided of a recent Australian epidemic of an upper limb regional pain syndrome known as 'repetition strain injury' (RSI). 'RSI' was originally attributed to occupational over-use of the upper limb and biomechanical and ergonomic solutions were sought. More sceptical commentators argued that 'RSI' was an epidemic form of hysteria. More recently, a consensus has emerged that the epidemic is attributable to a combination of factors: a change in the perception of endemic symptoms of upper limb pain; the iatrogenic effects of the term 'RSI' and the methods used to manage it; and complications of the medico-legal process in which many sufferers became entangled.

MeSH terms

  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Arm Injuries / etiology
  • Australia
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Hysteria / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors