Common Repetitive Motion Injuries Sustained at Work
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Glenn A. Perry with Sloan Firm.
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Glenn A. Perry, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in Texas.
Repetitive motion injuries or repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) occur when someone performs the same motion or activity over and over again. These types of injuries may cause temporary or permanent damage to nerves, tendons, muscles, or ligaments and may result in pain, numbness, and loss of mobility. Many repetitive motion injuries occur at work due to repeated activities; when this is the case, workers’ compensation may be able to help pay certain medical bills and wages lost during recovery. Manual laborers and office workers are considered most at risk for developing these injuries, although they could technically occur in any industry. To learn more about your options for recovery after a workplace stress injury, contact a workers’ compensation attorney sooner rather than later.
Common repetitive motion injuries or RSIs that occur on the job may include the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is one of the most common RSIs of all time, and is often seen in office workers or those who work on an assembly line. This injury occurs when a nerve in the wrist is compressed by inflamed ligaments and tendons, causing pain, numbness, and loss of mobility.
- Tendinitis: This includes a myriad of conditions in which tendons become inflamed and painful, limiting mobility. Tendinitis may occur in many parts of the body.
- Tendinosis: Often confused with tendinitis, this condition is actually a degeneration of the collagen within tendons due to overuse. This condition typically takes much longer to heal, and in some cases may be permanent.
- Rotator cuff syndrome: This occurs when tendons holding the shoulder joint in place are damaged. Work that involves repeated or prolonged overhead activity may result in this type of RSI.
- Bursitis: This occurs when a fluid-filled sac near a joint becomes inflamed and swollen, causing pain and limiting mobility. Complete rest is generally prescribed as a treatment for bursitis.
- Raynaud’s disease: This condition is common in those whose work involves vibrations, such as using a piece of heavy vibrating equipment like a jackhammer. With this condition, the blood vessels narrow, particularly in the fingers and toes, causing feelings of cold or numbness.
- De Quervain syndrome: This condition often occurs due to overuse of the wrist, and affects tendons in the wrist on the side of the thumb. Lifting heavy items such as grocery bags or other heavy items with a handle is the type of movement which can cause this condition.
- Thoracic outlet syndrome: This condition is unique from many RSIs in that rather than nerve damage occurring in the wrists or hand, thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when blood vessels and/or nerves become trapped between the collarbone and first rib. Athletes and pregnant women are at particular risk of developing this condition.
- Radial tunnel syndrome: This condition generally occurs from pressure on the radial nerve and may display as an aching feeling or fatigue at the top of the forearm.
In most cases, RSIs require dedicated at-home treatment; some cases may require surgery.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area, anti-inflammatories, steroid injections, and physical therapy may all be prescribed to someone suffering from an RSI. In most cases, RSIs are more inconvenient than they are serious, and usually require dedicated rest to heal. Some RSIs may require splinting or a wrap to allow the affected area to rest in the correct position. Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be required to correct an RSI.
Occupations considered most at risk for developing RSIs include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
- Desk jobs
- Construction workers (particularly those who use power tools)
- Bus drivers
- Manual laborers
If you believe your RSI may be work-related, seek medical care and inform your employer as soon as possible.
RSIs worsen with time and continued repetitive use, so if an RSI does exist it’s important to seek proper care and undergo recommended treatment. In many cases, rest of the affected area and efforts to reduce inflammation will be the first steps. If you suspect you may be developing an RSI due to work-related activities, talk to a doctor and let your employer know. Waiting to seek medical care for any workplace injury can actually have a negative impact on your options for recovery, so it’s important to be timely. If your employer is unwilling to help you file a workers’ compensation claim for the RSI to help pay for your medical bills and lost wages during the recovery period, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney for help pursuing your claim.