Red Flag For Repetitive Stress Injuries Identified For First Time In Humans
the first time in humans, scientists have found early indicators of
inflammation — potential warning signs — in work-related
injuries caused by repetitive motion.
findings could someday lead to early detection and prevention of
debilitating conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
new study from Temple University senior researchers Ann Barr and Mary
Barbe and their doctoral student, Stephen Carp, in the March issue of
Clinical Science, found that the immune system pumps out biomarkers
(different kinds of chemicals) as the body begins to become injured by
repetitive motions. These biomarkers warn of an underlying problem.
not a diagnostic test, because the biomarkers could also indicate
another type of injury, they do provide a red flag where before there
was none," said Barr, associate professor of physical therapy at
Temple’s College of Health Professions.
healthcare providers can diagnose repetitive motion injuries (RMI)
based only on physical examination findings and the symptoms reported
by the patient.
RMI sufferers don’t experience symptoms of pain until the damage
has begun. So the researchers’ main goal has been finding a means
to detect the problem before the damage starts. That way, conservative
intervention — ibuprofen, rest breaks at work, exercise —
can be evaluated as to their effectiveness in preventing the
development of chronic work-related conditions and, consequently, the
need for more serious measures such as surgery.
the injury to the tissues can be halted, then hopefully long-term
damage and impairment can be avoided," said Barbe, also an associate
professor of physical therapy.
and workers know the dramatic impact of RMIs, which cause pain, loss of
function and close to a third of missed workdays in the United States,
at a cost of $20 billion a year in workers’ compensation
previous studies, the researchers pinpointed these early warning
signals in a rat model of RMI. The current study is the first to
identify the warning signals in humans.
the study, they recruited 22 participants who were suffering from
repetitive-stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome,
tendonitis, and other wrist and shoulder injuries, and nine healthy
subjects. After a physical examination that rated the severity of
symptoms ranging from pain to range of motion, participants were given
blood tests for evidence of biomarkers.
blood tests revealed significant levels of several types of
inflammatory mediators — biomarkers — which signaled an
underlying problem," said Barr. "Also, the more severe the injury, the
more biomarkers there were."
Future research by the team will look deeper into the potential of biomarkers as indicators of injury and recovery.
For more information on Temple University’s College of Health Professions, visit www.temple.edu/chp