Repetitive Stress Doesn't End At The Workplace

In reference to your article "Repetitive stress: The pain has just begun" (Legal Affairs, July 13), the whole issue of repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, appears to be far more complex than the legal profession attempts to make it. So many different factors are implicated or intertwined--medical, occupational, avocational, and genetical. Avocational or recreational activities outside of the job are just as important as vocational factors because RSIs are just as commonly encountered in recreational activities, such as bicycling, gardening, sewing, crocheting, knitting, baking, etc.

According to a recent Mayo Clinic report (June, 1992), one of the most frequently listed occupations of patients with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), in Rochester, Minn. (1961 through 1980), is homemaker (302 of 1,016), followed by retired persons. Surprisingly enough, female gender with use of oral contraceptives is reported to be the strongest of risk factors. To make matters worse, heredity or familial cases of CTS are now being reported increasingly.

Thus, the complexity of RSIs dictates a more thorough assessment of each case from the medical, vocational, avocational, and genetical standpoints. Otherwise, ergonomics and workplace modifications may only play a limited role as a preventive measure.

Chansoo Kim, M.D.


Diplomate, American Board of

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Springfield, Ill.

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