There are two types of injuries you can sustain while on the job – specific injury and repetitive stress injury. It is likely that most people are familiar with a specific injury – you trip over something or fall down a flight of stairs. The injury can be traced to a specific event. Read on and contact AllianceMeds today for more information on repetitive stress injuries.
How do you sustain repetitive stress injuries?
The less understood injury is called cumulative trauma or continuous trauma. They are most commonly known as repetitive stress injuries or overuse injuries. These types of injuries may develop over time from repeated exposure to things like loud noises or engaging in a repetitive motion as part of your job.
Many different work conditions cause these types of injuries to develop. Repetitive motion is a common factor as doing the same job over and over does not allow the injuries time to heal. Some examples are (1) daily computer use without adequate protections; (2) vibrations from using power tools; (3) remaining in the same position for extended periods of time; (4) staying in an awkward pose for a long time; (5) fatigue; (6) moving heavy objects; (7) assembly line type of work; and (8) having to constantly grasp or turn a tool.
Typical job descriptions where these injuries are most prevalent include but are not limited to (1) office workers; (2) trade jobs, such as electricians, pipefitters, construction workers or plumbers; (3) health care professionals who are often tasked with lifting patients; (4) grocery and store clerks who find themselves swiping item after item at the checkout line or clerks who routinely stock items on high shelves; (5) janitors and housekeeping staff; (6) agricultural workers; (7) delivery workers
What are some examples of cumulative stress injuries?
There are several conditions that fall under cumulative trauma injuries including:
(1) carpal tunnel syndrome, the most frequent cause is constant typing and the movement of a computer mouse. For example, if you type 40 words a minute, that means you can press as many as 12,000 keys in an hour and over an eight-hour day that can equal 96,000 keys in a day. When this type of motion is repeated over months or years it can result in swelling which will cause pain, numbness and weakness in your hands.
(2) Epicondylitis, also known as “tennis elbow”, involves the inflammation of tendons that connect the elbow to the muscles of the forearm. The preliminary signs of tennis elbow are pain on the outside of the elbow and a loss of grip strength.
(3) Bursitis, which involves your bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions for the muscles, tendons and bones attached to your joints. Bursitis occurs when these sacs become inflamed from repetitive motion and typically affect your shoulder, elbow or hip.
(4) Tendinitis is when a tendon that attaches your muscle to bone becomes inflamed due to a repetitive motion.
It can take months or even years for these injuries to manifest and you may not have any real symptoms or you may only notice pain or tingling when doing one particular motion or sitting in a particular posture. Symptoms you should be wary of are (1) tingling and/or numbness, particularly in your hands, fingers or feet; (2) tenderness and pain in the area of the injury; (3) a noticeable loss of strength and an inability to grip objects or form a fist; (4) loss of flexibility; and (5) reduced range of motion.
What should you do if you have repetitive stress injuries?
If you suspect that you have developed a repetitive stress injury you should document the conditions on your job that you think may have led to the injury. Keep a record of the hours you have worked on a particular task, when you started to feel the pain and how the pain progressed.
Once you start to feel pain consistently it is important that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. Once the doctor diagnoses you with a repetitive stress injury you should immediately inform your employer as there will be a short period of time for you to do so.
Next, you should speak to an attorney regarding your claim, as a repetitive stress injury can be difficult to prove. Unlike a specific injury that results from say a trip and fall on the job, when it comes to a repetitive stress injury you must be able to show that you sustained the injury as a result of performing your workplace duties over time and not due to non-work factors.
AllianceMeds will work with your doctors and attorneys to ensure you receive the proper medications and the best possible resolution of your workers’ compensation claim. If you have any questions about how we can help, contact AllianceMeds today.