For most repetitive strain injuries, the disease progresses through three stages:
- The first stage is mild pain or tiredness that clears up after rest and generally does not affect the worker's lifestyle away from work, to any great extent. This stage can last for weeks or months, but is generally reversible if the cause is identified and removed.
- The second stage is more severe pain, aching, tingling, numbness or tiredness that develops early in the working day, persists longer at night, and affects activities even at home.
- The third stage occurs when symptoms become continuous, even during complete rest. Often, the worker can no longer carry out ordinary light tasks at work or at home. At this stage, recovery may take years if it occurs at all.