Not all job-related injuries are sustained during accidents. Sometimes the nature of the work being performed is enough to induce nagging aches and pains in seasoned workers.
Repetitive strain injuries occur across a wide range of occupations — from office employees to construction workers. After months or years of performing the same tasks, the muscles, tendons, joints, and nerves sustain gradual damage.
What are some common types of repetitive strain injuries?
Common repetitive strain injuries include:
- Musculoskeletal disorders — Pain and discomfort in the back, neck, shoulders, and knees. This condition is often caused by repetitive lifting, bending, and twisting, as well as working in awkward positions or sitting for long periods of time.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome — Inflammation, numbness, or tingling of the wrist due to compression of the median nerve. This can result from repetitive use of the hands, wrists, and fingers. It's common among office employees who type or use a mouse, as well as workers who use hand tools or power tools.
- Bursitis — Pain and inflammation in the joints due to damage to the bursae (fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction in the joints). This condition is often caused by repetitive knee bending or staying on knees for extended periods of time.
- Rotator cuff injuries — A partial or full tear (or tendinitis) of the tendons that hold the shoulder together, resulting in pain and limited mobility. This injury is usually caused by repetitive lifting or overhead arm movements.
- Tennis elbow — Pain and inflammation in the elbow caused by damage to the extensor carpi radialis brevis in the forearm. This injury can be caused by repetitive extending or twisting of the wrist, such as turning a screwdriver or using a hammer.
How are repetitive strain injuries treated and prevented?
If you have noticed any repetitive strain injury symptoms while at work, you should take them seriously and see a doctor as soon as possible.
When diagnosing your condition, your doctor may ask questions relating to your overall work environment and the duties you perform. You may then undergo an ultrasound, MRI, or EMG to assess damage to the tissue and nerves.
For minor injuries, your treatment options may include:
- Resting, applying ice, and keeping injury site elevated
- Physical therapy, exercise, and stretching
- Training for relaxation and stress reduction
If the injury is more serious, it may require:
- Steroid injections
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Keeping the site of injury wrapped in a splint
According to a health tip from the University of Michigan — cited by U.S. News & World Report — repetitive stress injuries are preventable. Workers may protect themselves by doing the following:
- Practicing and maintaining good posture
- Avoiding overuse of joints
- Taking breaks when needed and stretching
- Avoiding gripping utensils and tools too tightly
- Using proper typing techniques by keeping wrists straight, letting hands float, and not straining fingers
If you have sustained a repetitive strain injury due to the nature of your job, medical treatment and time away from work won't be cheap. Luckily, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which would pick up the medical costs and wage reimbursement. Having a strong legal advocate on your side can make the process easier and maximize your chances of obtaining benefits.
To learn more, contact O'Malley & Langan Law Offices, based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.