Everything You Need To Know About Repetitive Strain Injury From Pipetting

If you work with Molecular Biology Products, especially pipettes, you must know how much of a repetitive task pipetting can be. Pipetting day after day for several hours can cause you to feel pain in the wrist, numbness at the bottom of your thumb, or even a weak feeling in your hand. All of these symptoms indicate that you have sustained a repetitive strain injury (RSI). 

In this blog, we’ll explain what RSI is, why it occurs, and how you can avoid your everyday pipetting activity from causing it.

What Is Repetitive Strain Injury?

RSI is an inflammatory reaction to strain on a joint or limb caused by vital nerves rubbing against bone and other joint components. Examples of RSI include tendonitis of the hand, carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist, and cubital tunnel syndrome of the elbow.

Symptoms can appear a long time after you’ve already done pipetting. Most injuries are known to extend into the back and shoulders, meaning these sensations are not restricted to your wrist or hand.

How Pipetting Causes Repetitive Strain Injury

Force and repetition are two major physical factors that contribute to RSI. Dispensing the fluids, dislodging the pipette tip, and maintaining a firm grip on a poorly built pipette all require force in pipetting.

Plus, as any lab worker knows, pipetting is frequently highly repetitive. In a single day, a single person may perform thousands of pipetting motions. You’re at risk for RSI if you pipette for more than four hours per day, which many lab technicians do.

Fortunately, RSI may be avoided and typically treated. Here are some ideas to keep it from happening to you:

  • Maintain A Proper Body Posture

Pipetting and other lab work can be made less forceful and repetitious by using proper technique, habits, and posture. Following is the correct body posture you should maintain when working in the lab.

  • Don’t extend or elevate your arms for long periods of time. 
  • Instead of reaching out to the pipette, raise your chair. 
  • Keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle and your hands straight out.
  • Stand or sit upright and keep your shoulders lined with your ears. 
  • While sitting, your back should be lined up with the chair.

It is also important that you take breaks often in-between pipetting. Most lab experts suggest taking a break every 20 minutes for at least two minutes. Be sure you stretch your arms, hands, and shoulders in that break.    

  • Use Ergonomic Pipette Supplies and Equipment

While there isn’t much anyone can do about the repetitive nature of pipetting, there are tools designed to lessen pipetting force. Connecting the tip to a pipette, aspirating and discharging liquid components, and ejecting the tip all require force.

Tip mounting demands the most of the effort and, as a result, is most likely to cause harm. To acquire a good fit, you shouldn’t have to rotate your wrist or forcefully press the tip into the pipette’s end, as both of these motions might cause repetitive strain.

These movements and the mounting force can be reduced by using a tip with a flexible proximal end. No force is required because the flexible end makes everything much easier. (Biotix)

The second greatest energy is required for tip ejection. The ejector button is frequently found close to the plunger situated at the top, causing you to take an awkward half-step over and press down. This inconvenient movement is what causes RSI in the thumb.

Pipette manufacturers have recognized the importance of RSI and now manufacture pipettes featuring low-profile ejector buttons. Some pipettes even include left- and right-handed ejector buttons that can be adjusted. As a result of all these changes, the ejection force is reduced by a lot.

The tips are equally vital. Tips that are a great fit for the pipette will connect and detach effortlessly and with minimal force from your pipette, reducing the risk of RSI and providing more precise results.

Now, if you are looking for a range of LTS pipette tips, you can easily find them at Molecular Biology Products. We offer the best lab equipment at the best price so that you can have access to the essential products at all times. So, browse our collection and shop for your essential products now!

Work Cited

Biotix. “Pipette Without Pain: A Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury from Pipetting.” Biotix, 26 September 2016, Accessed 31 May 2022.


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