Workers typically know they're eligible for workers' compensation for acute injuries suffered at work, such as an injury from a slip and fall incident. However, workers sometimes develop cumulative injuries from the performance of their jobs. Called repetitive stress injuries, these injuries can also fall under the umbrella of work-related injuries.
Workers Affected by Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries occur frequently in jobs that require computer usage. People who work for most of their days on computers experience these injuries primarily in their hands and wrists, though the pain can occur in their shoulders and lower backs, too.
Labor and service industry jobs can also require the repetitive motions that result in stress injuries. Laborers who work with heavy equipment can also experience such injuries through using vibrating tools. Nurses are also susceptible to repetitive stress injuries.
Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries occur because workers are required to perform too many repetitions of a motion over the course of their workdays, such as the motions associated with cutting hair or operating a computer. These types of tasks typically result in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist tendinitis, and tennis elbow.
Workers in physical jobs that require lifting and other manual labor can suffer from overexertion of their muscles and general muscle fatigue. When they're lifting or moving items, they may also move unnaturally or otherwise twist in a way that causes injury. Laborers may also be prone to bursitis.
Nurses, plumbers, electricians, grocery workers, and factory workers often engage in both kinds of activities. They also do a lot of lifting and may work with vibrating machinery. They can suffer from different forms of tendinitis and develop cysts related to standing or rotating their wrists. The issues are exacerbated by incorrect posture.
In addition to muscles and tendons, both nerves and ligaments can be affected by repetitive stress injuries. The most common symptom is pain, sometimes to the point that workers can no longer perform their duties. Tingling and numbness are usually signs that the nerves are affected. Loss of flexibility or strength may be warning signs that damage is becoming permanent.
Treatment for Repetitive Stress Injuries
Naturally, most people cannot stop performing their jobs because they're developing a repetitive stress injury. Whenever possible, they should try to stretch out the affected areas and take breaks from the motions.
When they do get to the treatment phase, individuals have different options depending on the severity of the stress injury and location affected. For instance, if swelling occurs, they can apply cold compresses to the area. They may need to wear splints or braces to relieve the pressure on the nerves and muscles.
If the stress injuries get bad enough, they probably need some physical therapy. The therapist can help work out the injury and teach patients how to alleviate symptoms on their own. Sometimes stress injuries get bad enough that the suffer needs surgery - this happens especially with carpal tunnel where a surgeon needs to sever the tendon that's putting pressure on the nerves.
Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries can lead to workers paying for treatments, undergoing surgery, and missing time from work. Luckily, in most states, workers may be eligible for workers' compensation for their stress injuries. The key is to prove their work duties either caused or exacerbated their injuries.
That process involves many steps. The first step should be telling your employer you're suffering symptoms related to repetitive stress injuries. A next step is a visit to the doctor. You may need to talk to human resources about the proper protocol. Once you've gotten an evaluation from a doctor, you must provide notice to your employer.
You may be eligible for a variety of benefits. These benefits include medical expenses associated with identifying and treating the stress injury. They also include rehabilitation. If you miss work, you might be eligible for temporary disability. These benefits are available even if your work re-injured a preexisting condition.
If you're suffering from a stress injury because of your job, let Bahrie Law help you file a workers' compensation claim.