What is a Stress Injury?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Rachael K. Jones with Tilton & Tilton LLP.

What is a Stress Injury?
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Stress injuries, also referred to as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), occur when muscles, tendons, and/or nerves are damaged over time due to performing a repetitive motion. Office work, manual labor, and sports are common fields in which RSIs are common due to the requirement for the same task to be performed on a daily or otherwise repetitive basis. When a stress injury or RSI occurs as a result of work-related duties, the injured party may be eligible to have their damages such as medical bills and lost wages covered under workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ compensation, commonly referred to as “workers’ comp”, is a type of insurance offered by employers to cover the damages of workers who find themselves injured or ill as a result of their employment. Workers’ comp not only offers an avenue of financial recovery for injured workers but also protects the employer from liability in most scenarios assuming negligence and/or a third party were not involved in the injury. Every state has different laws regarding workers’ comp; if you have suffered a work-related RSI or other type of injury, reach out to a workers’ comp attorney in your area to learn more about your options for physical and financial recovery.

Occupations with a high rate of RSIs for employees include the following:

  • Office work
  • Writing/typing work
  • Dental hygiene
  • Construction work
  • Manual labor
  • Assembly line work
  • Cleaning
  • Carpentry
  • Electrical
  • Cooking
  • Butchering
  • Plumbing
  • Bus driving
  • Music/performing arts
  • Animal husbandry, including milking
  • Stocking/packing
  • Physical/massage therapy

These are by no means the only occupations in which workers find themselves suffering from a stress injury. Any job which requires the same motion or action to be performed on a repetitive basis could result in an RSI eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

To prevent a developing RSI: make sure you are not slouching, particularly if you work at a desk; try to keep the wrists level with the mouse and keyboard, and avoid crossing your legs for extended periods of time while seated. For other occupations, it is recommended to take frequent breaks to stretch and/or rest, drink plenty of water, and vary day-to-day activities if possible, allowing individual muscle groups time to rest and recover before being activated again.

Some of the most common RSIs include the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Bursitis
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Epicondylitis or “tennis elbow”
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • ACL knee injuries
  • MCL knee injuries
  • Nerve entrapment disorders
  • Patellofemoral syndrome
  • Stress fractures

If you are suffering one of the above or another RSI as a result of work-related actions, report the injury to your supervisor and Human Resources (HR) department as soon as possible. These parties may be able to help you file a workers’ comp claim, or receive help through an alternate form of employee injury insurance.

If you run into problems seeking aid for one of these or another workplace injury, or if your employer does not offer any kind of workers’ comp or injury insurance, reach out to a workers’ comp attorney to learn about other options to help pay medical bills, wages lost during recovery time, and more.

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