Most workplace injuries are neither sudden nor traumatic. In fact, repetitive stress injuries, which are the most common type of injury in the workplace, tend to develop gradually. This makes repetitive stress injuries a “hidden” risk in the workplace. Many employees don’t realize that they are at risk of developing a repetitive stress injury, and may discount the early feelings of soreness or tingling that signal the beginning of a repetitive stress injury.
Repetitive stress injuries, which include common musculoskeletal injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and tendonitis, make up approximately two-thirds of workplace injuries. In other words, about 7% of the population will eventually develop a repetitive stress injury.
These painful injuries occur from overuse, particularly when the overuse includes repetitive motion or repeated stress to a particular part of the body. Many typists, for example, will develop repetitive stress injuries due to repetitive micro-movements of the wrists and fingers throughout the day. Other people at risk include those who work at assembly lines, who operate vibrating machinery such as drills, or who engage in frequent heavy lifting. Additional risks for repetitive stress injuries include poor posture, less-than-ideal workplace ergonomics, and infrequent breaks throughout the day.
Despite the prevalence of repetitive stress injuries in the workplace, such injuries are often paid little attention. Many people, including both employees and employers, fail to realize how damaging repetitive stress can be to the body. Given that the damage from repetitive stress builds up gradually, people may not immediately realize that they need to seek treatment. This means that repetitive stress injuries are often not addressed until they are severe.
Although repetitive stress injuries often worsen gradually, symptoms of repetitive stress injuries can become serious and even disabling. Symptoms of repetitive stress injuries can include tingling, muscle tightness, and aches or sharp pains. For some people, symptoms become so severe that daily activities such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, or performing office-related duties become difficult or impossible.
Treating a Repetitive Stress Injury
As with most health conditions, preventing repetitive stress injuries is much easier than treating them. Furthermore, treatment is most effective if it’s started early. In fact, early treatment can often cure or halt the progression of a repetitive stress injury. Conversely, ignoring the problem can cause it to become worse and potentially permanently disabling. So if you think that you are at risk of developing a repetitive stress injury, or are beginning to notice mild overuse symptoms, the best approach is to address any chronic ergonomic or postural problems.
If your symptoms persist or are severe, then your doctor can help you design a treatment plan that incorporates a variety of treatment approaches. Depending on the specific type of repetitive stress injury, common treatment approaches include medication, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, or surgery. Complementary treatment approaches can include posture retraining, yoga, Pilates, and acupuncture.
Seeking Legal Help When You Have a Repetitive Stress Injury
Repetitive stress injuries can become so severe that they result in time away from a job or even, in severe cases, job loss. In fact, a repetitive stress injury can take between two weeks and a year to heal. This means that repetitive stress injuries can become a threat to financial stability, especially if the treatment requires expensive medical treatment as well.
Fortunately, worker’s compensation is often available to help cover lost wages and medical expenses related to repetitive stress injuries. For the best chance of securing worker’s compensation or other forms of legal recourse, contact an attorney as soon as you discover that you have a repetitive stress injury.
If you are suffering from a repetitive stress injury, contact us as soon as possible to learn how Meshbesher Law Firm can help.