What Are Some Common Repetitive Stress Injuries That Can Occur in the Workplace?
Posted in Workers' compensation on September 12, 2018
Not all occupational injuries come from sudden, single accidents. Some develop more slowly, over months or years of carrying out the same, repetitive tasks at work. Working on an assembly line, lifting and moving boxes, or typing all day at a computer can all cause repetitive stress injuries over time. Employees in Tennessee can still qualify for workers’ compensation for job-related repetitive motion injuries. The following are some of the most common repetitive stress injuries in the workplace.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common overuse injuries in the modern workplace. The enormous increase of technology in today’s work environment has led to most offices centering around computers, keyboards, tablets, and other tech that requires workers to type most of the day.
Typing or other activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements (such as scanning items at a cash register) can culminate in carpal tunnel over time. Carpal tunnel affects the median nerve and can cause tingling, numbness, swelling, and pain in the wrists, hands, and sometimes forearms. Employees may need braces, prescriptions, or even surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.
Bursitis and Tendonitis
Bursitis and tendonitis occur when the soft tissues surrounding bones and muscles break down or degenerate over time. This degeneration can occur from prolonged repetitive motions. Both conditions impact the tendons and can happen quite suddenly. Symptoms include sudden and severe pain, worse pain during movement, and chronic pain even during rest periods. Bursitis and tendonitis may be permanent, but for the most part they are both treatable.
Trigger finger describes a condition of the tendon in which inflammation narrows the sheath surrounding the tendon and forces the finger into a bent position. The affected finger may bend or straighten with a snapping sensation or be impossible to straighten at all in severe cases. Occupations that require repetitive gripping actions, such as grocery store clerks who use scanning guns, can cause trigger finger. Treatment options include medication, therapy, rest, and surgery.
Rotator Cuff Syndrome
Workers who must constantly lift items or perform overhead activities, such as painting, are most susceptible to rotator cuff syndrome. Athletes – especially tennis players and swimmers – are also common targets for this injury. Rotator cuff syndrome happens when repetitive motion damages or irritates the tendons in the rotator cuff (in the shoulder joint), causing shoulder pain. Most patients will respond well to non-surgical treatments, such as rest and medication.
Tennis elbow describes the overloading of the tendons in the elbow, causing a painful condition that can inhibit movement. This injury occurs most often for employees who carry out repetitive motions with their arms and elbow joints, including butchers, construction workers, painters, and plumbers. Tennis elbow can cause pain in the elbow, forearm, and wrist, as well as hand and wrist weakness and difficulty performing daily tasks. Therapy, injections, and surgery are the most common treatments.
Back and neck pain are also common repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. Employees who consistently bend, lift, and rotate their bodies to move items in an office, warehouse, or manufacturing center may develop soft tissue injuries in the neck or lower back over time. These injuries may be chronic, or workers may recover with adequate rest and equipment, such as back braces.
Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Repetitive motions aren’t the only things that can cause worker injuries over time. Cumulative trauma injuries such as hearing loss can also occur due to long-term exposure to dangerous elements. It is an employer’s duty to provide protective gear and training to prevent repetitive motion and cumulative trauma injuries. Failure to do so could give the injured worker grounds for a personal injury claim. Contact a Nashville personal injury lawyer about your repetitive stress injury today.