Symptoms and Signs of Repetitive Motion Injuries

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 6/17/2022

Doctor's Notes on Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion injuries are common tissue injuries that occur as a result of repeated motions. Athletic-related injuries to simple everyday actions, such as scrubbing a floor or running, can lead to a repetitive motion injury. The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendinitis (tendon injury) and bursitis (injury to bursae, fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion between bones and other tissues). Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and rotator cuff injuries are common types of tendon injuries. Bursitis commonly affects the knees, elbows, and hips. 

Symptoms of tendinitis include pain that is made worse by active motion of the inflamed tendon. Redness and warmth of the skin overlying the inflamed tendon may occur.

Symptoms of bursitis include

  • pain,
  • tenderness,
  • decreased range of motion over the affected area, and redness, swelling, and
  • a crunchy feeling when the joint is moved.

What Is the Treatment for Repetitive Motion Injuries?

The treatment for repetitive motion injuries depends on the location of the injury and the severity of the damage caused by the repetitive motion. Most treatments are aimed at reducing the symptoms of the injury by reducing the inflammation. 

Medical and surgical treatments for repetitive motion injuries may include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Braces or splints to support damaged joints and tendons 
  • Physical and occupational therapy to train other muscles to support the injured joints or tendons 
  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga or non-strenuous exercise to stretch injured areas
  • Corticosteroid treatment in pill form or by injections 
  • Surgery to correct structural issues with joints, tendons, or nerves

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.