Many workers perform the same motions day after day. These could include picking up boxes in a warehouse or typing on a keyboard. The human body typically can handle regular movements for a while. However, repeated motions can sometimes be damaging to soft tissues, connective tissues, and nerves. The umbrella term for this is repetitive stress injury.
Although repetitive stress injuries can happen anytime, they tend to be related to work. As a result, many employees file Workers’ Compensation claims each year for repetitive stress injuries. In fact, these types of on-the-job injuries are quite common. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), workers have to stay home an average of 14 days annually because of a repetitive stress injury.
Why Do Repetitive Motions Cause Stress to the Body?
It might seem surprising to hear that even small repetitive movements can lead to health-related problems. The problem with most repetitive movements is that they force the muscles, ligaments, and other body parts into awkward positions. This leaves workers at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders.
Many employees assume that physical discomfort is just “part of the job.” This is the wrong way to approach repetitive stress injuries. By ignoring them, workers can end up with lifelong problems and serious pain.
Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries
Common repetitive stress injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This repetitive stress injury affects the arm, wrists, and hands. Workers who sit at computers all day are likely to experience carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Inflammation of soft tissues and ligaments: From tendonitis to bursitis, any inflammation of muscles, ligaments, or tendons can be painful. Inflammation can limit an individual’s range of motion and make certain movements impossible.
- Back pain: Upper, middle, or lower back pain can be associated with different types of work movements. Employees who carry even moderately heavy items, such as restaurant bussers or dock workers, may end up with back pain. Treatment for back pain can be extensive depending upon the severity of the repetitive stress injury.
- Bursitis: The bursae are sacs that provide cushioning throughout the body. When these sacs are irritated, they become inflamed. Bursitis can be exceptionally painful.
- Rotator cuff injuries: The rotator cuff sits in the shoulder and allows the arm to freely move. When the rotator cuff is not working properly, it can limit the movement and strength of the shoulder and arm.
- Knee injuries: The knees can only take so much repetitive motion before they begin to wear down. A knee injury can interfere with an employee’s ability to perform some or all work duties.
Are Some Workers More Likely to Get Repetitive Stress Injuries?
Nearly all workers repeat the same motions each day. This means that any worker can be diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury. Still, some workers are more likely to get repetitive stress injuries than others:
- Construction workers.
- Restaurant workers.
- Office workers.
- Health care workers.
- Cleaners and housekeepers.
- Plumbers and electricians.
Signs of Repetitive Stress Injuries
It is important to listen to your body and pay attention to signs of a repetitive stress injury. Remember that repetitive stress injuries take time to develop, which means you probably will have a sense that something may be wrong early in their development. The sooner you get help for what you think might be a repetitive stress injury, the faster you can start healing.
A few indicators of a repetitive stress injury include:
- Pain in one part of the body, such as the back, shoulder, elbow, or wrist. The pain will likely be worse at the end of the workday.
- Tingling, throbbing, or burning in certain body parts.
- Stiffness in the joints.
- Soreness that does not go away.
- Weakened muscles.
- Cramping and limited range of motion.
You cannot diagnose a repetitive stress injury yourself. Therefore, you should arrange an appointment with a health care provider to find out if your symptoms may be related to a repetitive stress injury.
If you do have a job-related repetitive stress injury, you should talk to your employer as soon as possible. You have the right to file a Workers’ Compensation claim to cover your medical costs and a part of your wages while you get treatment for your condition. Talking to a Workers’ Compensation lawyer may be a good decision if your repetitive stress injury is complicated or you have difficulty getting your claim approved.
Can Repetitive Stress Injuries Be Prevented?
You are not to blame if you get a repetitive stress injury. Many times, repetitive stress injuries are an occupational hazard that can be hard to avoid. Nevertheless, you can take some steps to reduce your chances of developing repetitive stress injuries:
- Take small breaks to stretch, walk around, recharge, and relax.
- Perform repeated motions ergonomically.
- Use equipment that is meant for both you and the job.
- Wear proper footwear and protective gear.
- Lift from your legs and not from your back.
- Resist the temptation to lift objects awkwardly or too quickly.
- Switch up your manual tasks frequently to give overused body parts a break.
- Go through warm-up exercises before manual labor.
Making just a few changes to the way you work can help you lower your likelihood of developing a repetitive stress injury.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Help Employees Struggling With Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries may be common but they can still be denied by Workers’ Compensation insurance companies. You do not have to deal with the frustration and worry of being denied your rightful benefits. Contact one of our New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC for help. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, Vineland, New Jersey, and Trevose, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.