Overview of Overuse Syndrome

Overuse syndromes, also called cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or repetitive strain injury (RSI), are conditions characterized by chronic physical movements that can be harmful to a body part. Many conditions fall under the category of overuse syndromes, some of which are described here:

Woman running on a outdoor trail
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Hand and Wrist

Overuse of the hands and wrists are common with many daily activities. Whether we work a desk job at a computer or as manual laborers, our hands are doing the routine activities that we all need for most any job.

As a result, hand and wrist overuse syndromes are a common complaint and a frequent source of pain.

Common overuse syndromes of the wrist include:


The elbow joint is a complex joint that combines several different motions. While it is a hinge that bends back and forth, it also allows 180 degrees of forearm rotation. It is the attachment of the forearm muscles and wrist tendons that are so critical to sports and lifting activities, and these tendons can become inflamed.

Elbow overuse syndromes generally result from specific repetitive movements.

Examples of elbow overuse injuries include:


No joint in the body moves through a broader range of motion than the shoulder joint. Because of the complex movements of the upper extremity, the shoulder joint relies on ligaments, muscles, and tendons to work together to guide it through these motions. 

As a result, overuse tendonitis of the shoulder is very common.

Shoulder strain injury can include:


Hips are subjected to heavy forces because they support the weight of the body. Your hips are also under direct pressure when you are sitting or sleeping. Overuse syndromes of the hip can cause pain with walking and sitting and can slow down your activities.

Hip overuse can result in:

Knee and Leg

Knee and shin problems are frequent sources of overuse problems, especially for competitive and recreational athletes. Sports activities place significant stress on the knees and legs. Most workplace and sports overuse problems can be relieved by rest or temporarily avoiding the sport.

Examples of injuries due to overuse of the knee or leg include:

Foot and Ankle

We take our feet for granted until they begin to hurt. And just about anything we do requires us to use our feet. Because of this, overuse problems of the feet can be significantly limiting to our daily activities. 

Foot overuse injuries include:

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.