Cumulative Trauma Disorders

Cumulative trauma disorders are also known as overuse syndromes or repetitive strain injuries. Cumulative trauma disorders involve injuries from movements that cause inflammation or degeneration of the soft tissues of the joints through repetitive use. These repetitive movements, which often involve the ligaments and tendons of joints, are not typically harmful to the body when used occasionally, but may be when done repeatedly over long periods of time. These repetitive strain injuries cause stress in the ligaments and tendons of the involved joints, which may in turn cause swelling around the nerves near the soft tissues or wearing down of the sheaths (outer coverings) of these soft tissues. Due to the scarring and inflammation of these tendons, movements of the joints may become more difficult or even painful. As a result of inflammation of the joint, the nerves in these areas may become squeezed do to the reduction in space for them to travel unimpeded. When these nerves are squeezed, the resulting symptoms may include numbness, tingling, and weakness of the extremity or pert of the body that nerve supplies. Here are a list of cumulative trauma disorders involving repetitive use injuries.



Bursitis: This condition is caused by the inflammation of the bursas in a joint. This condition affects tendons and joints . A tendon is a connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. A burse is a small, fluid-filled sac between a tendon and a bone that reduces friction and provides shock absorption. As a result of repetitive strain of that joint, the bursas may become irritated and inflamed. Bursitis of the bursas in a joint most often affects the elbows and shoulders.

Trigger finger: A tendon sheath includes two layers of connective tissue, which serve to reduce friction when gliding against other structures and to protect the tendon. When someone develops Trigger Finger, these two protective layers become worn out to the point that the finger becomes stiff and difficult to move. The disorder trigger finger may affect any of the fingers of the hand.

Golfer's Elbow: The repetitive movements caused by the force of a golfer's swing may cause irritation and inflammation of the tendon that connects the medial condyle of the humerus (large bone of the upper arm) with the forearm. The medial epicondyle is located on the medial side of the end of the humerus that articulated with the forearm when we are in the anatomic position (arms straight by our side, palms out). Because of its location, this syndrome is also called medial epicondylitis. In laymen's terms, this condition affects the inside of our elbow.

Tennis elbow: This repetitive stress injury affects the outside of the elbow. This condition is caused by inflammation and degeneration of the tendon that connects the lateral epicondyle with the forearm. This condition is called tennis elbow because of the relatively high numbers of tennis players who contract the associated symptoms. Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain that begins on the outside of the elbow, that radiates down the forearm, to the back of the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: The pain and nerve symptoms associated with this condition occur when the bundle of nerves and ligaments that pass through an opening between the 8 carpal bones becomes constricted, which increases pressure on the medial nerve that runs from the forearm into the hand.