What is A Repetitive Stress Injury?

Many jobs require you to perform the same motions over and over everyday. These repeated motions can result in you developing a number of small injuries over a period of time.

When many people think of repetitive motion pain, they tend to think of carpal tunnel syndrome — the wrist problem that’s often linked with overusing computers. But what about the baggage handler, for example, who lifts heavy luggage all day every day and has repeated stress on his back? Or a hospital worker who lifts patents every day?

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Small Injuries May Build Into Bigger Ones Over Time

As these small traumas build up over time, that same baggage handler will end up with a damaged and weakened back, which could result in the need for medical treatment and taking time off work.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), like these, actually include more than 100 types of injuries and ailments caused by the body’s wear and tear over time. If your job requires you to repeat similar motions, day after day, you might be at risk of developing this cumulative condition. You should also know that these injuries are considered compensable and should be claimed under the Workers’ Compensation law.

What Is A Repetitive Stress Injury?

shutterstock_176326799A RSI, also known as a continuous motion injury, is caused by repetitive stress and strain to muscles and other body parts, such as ligaments, tendons, spinal discs and nerves. If you have this type of injury you might notice recurring aches and pains, such as in the hands, wrists, neck, shoulders, back and lower limbs.

Workers in any industry can develop RSIs. If your job involves repeating any the following job duties, overtime they may become problematic:

  • Moving heavy objects
  • Computer typing and mouse use
  • Stocking inventory
  • Digging and landscaping
  • Using machinery and power tools
  • Lifting hospital patients
  • Lifting a heavy weight
  • Standing in the same position

This is not a complete list of the duties that can lead to RSIs. Just because your injury is not listed, do not mean it is not an RSI. This is where advice from a Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you.

Common Types Of Injuries

shutterstock_238409218The RSI category is incredibly broad, and intensity of pain and discomfort varies case by case. Common problems include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. Specific nerve damage in the wrist, which can lead to aches, numbness, tingling or weakness in the hand or fingers. Common in jobs that require computer or joystick use.
  • Irritation and inflammation of a bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that helps cushion a joint. This type of swelling and pain is often associated with overusing joints, carrying heavy items and reaching overhead.
  • Tearing and irritation of the tendons, which connect bones to muscles. Can be linked to overusing or over-stretching specific muscles.
  • Stress fractures. Minute bone cracks due to repetitive actions or overloading. Stress fractures can be linked to running, walking, jumping and other rhythmic actions.
  • Patellofemoral syndrome. The weakening of kneecap cartilage due to repeated kneeling, squatting or climbing.
  • “Tennis elbow.” Officially called epicondylitis, this condition causes swelling and pain in the elbow, and is often due to joint strain and overuse.
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Signs And Symptoms

Each specific ailment carries a unique set of symptoms, and it is important not to ignore warning signs of RSIs. These injuries might build up slowly, but they can lead to debilitating pain that is just as intense as a dramatic accident, like a fall.

You may have an RSI if you notice problems like these:

  • Joint or muscle weakness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Lack of endurance
  • Clumsiness
  • A feeling that your hands or joints are “dead weight”
  • Coldness in the hands that won’t go away
  • Using your non-dominant hand to avoid pain in your dominant hand
  • Adopting “awkward” posture to make common actions more comfortable

Who Is At Risk?

shutterstock_46250572The main risk factors for developing an RSI can be seen in almost any occupation. These three risks are:

  • Poor posture
  • Improper technique
  • Muscle and joint overuse

Generally speaking, workers may be more susceptible to these injuries if they:

  • Work in a high-stress job
  • Use a computer for at least several hours daily
  • Lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have loose joints
  • Are sleep-deprived

What Can You Do?

If you are having problems like these and think you have developed an RSI from repeating the same motions and tasks at work, you could be entitled toWorkers’ Compensation. This is where we can help you. Our attorneys have vast experience in dealing with Workers’ Compensation injury cases like these and will be happy to help you through the Workers’ Compensation claims process.

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Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.