Cumulative Trauma Disorders


Diagnosis and Treatment of Cumulative Trauma Disorder

Also called “repetitive stress injury” or repetitive motion disorders, each of these cumulative traumas must be addressed in relation to the highly specific nature of the injury. Where possible, this may involve altering the manner in which a movement is accomplished, supporting the body with some kind of external brace, or, in the best case scenario, eliminating the movement completely.

In a large number of cases, however, the movement is directly tied to the patient’s means of earning a living. Consequently, coping strategies including various medications for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and, at times, surgical procedures are used in response.

In diagnosing a cumulative trauma disorder, the physician will take an extensive medical history and likely order various imaging tests from simple X-rays to MRIs. In all likelihood, the condition will be chronic and treatment options will be geared toward countermeasures to prevent greater damage and to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the patient to be forced to give up the offending activity altogether, even if that means a drastic alteration in their working lives.

Underlying Causes of Cumulative Trauma Disorder

Many doctors believe that muscle tension is the root cause of most cumulative trauma disorders. When muscles are tense, they do not receive a steady supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Lactic acid builds up, which produces that burning feeling of having “over done it.” Pain from the lactic acid leads to further muscle tightening, the patient normally tries compensatory movements, spasms may set in — essentially a cascade of related interactions is triggered all leading to eventual damage.

It is important to seek medical help at the first sign of a cumulative trauma disorder. The longer these conditions go unsupervised, the more serious the injury, and the more likely that it will prove to be permanent.

Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles
2811 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 550
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: 310-819-4362
Fax: 310-453-3685
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