Common Repetitive Motion Injuries Found in Workers’ Compensation Claims
When most people think of workplace injuries, they may imagine back injuries, head trauma, or broken bones. However, more and more employees are suffering from injuries that occur gradually and suddenly make it difficult to do daily tasks, such as typing, writing, or bending over. These are called repetitive motion injuries or WEAR and TEAR injuries.
As the name suggests, these injuries cause wear and tear on joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons over time. These microscopic tears are caused by doing the same motions over and over again. They are also caused by friction, trauma, and certain diseases, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. They may be temporary or permanent. The most common type of repetitive motion injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.
When these tears do not heal quickly enough, inflammation and pain occurs. In some cases, the pain can cause extreme difficulty with performing tasks in the workplace or even at home. Repetitive trauma injuries comprise of more than 50% of all athletic-related injuries. If you believe your repetitive stress injury was exacerbated by work activities, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
You could file a workers’ compensation claim if you were hurt at work. If you suffered any type of workplace injury, be sure to protect your legal rights.
Common Types of Injuries
The most common types of repetitive motion injuries include the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. This painful condition causes the median nerve in the hand to become pinched. This nerve controls the hand’s nerve impulses and sensations.It passes through the carpal tunnel, which consists of bones and ligaments. Swelling can cause the nerve to be compressed inside the tunnel. This can cause numbness and pain. Over time, hand muscles may deteriorate if not treated.
The dominant hand is the one that is usually affected the most. Those who work with computers or work on assembly lines are most likely to get this condition. Those who have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or thyroid disease, or who are pregnant, are also more prone to the condition. Children rarely get carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Tendonitis. Tendons connect muscle to the bone, allowing joints to move. Tendons are very strong but can get inflamed. This is called tendonitis. Tendonitis often occurs from overstretching and overuse. It often occurs in the elbows, shoulders, wrists, and biceps. When it occurs in the elbows, it is more commonly known as tennis elbow. Males are more likely to have tendonitis than women. Without proper treatment, the tendon can rupture. This can be very painful and require surgery.
- Bursitis. There are more than 150 bursae in the body. Bursae are small sacs that cushion the area between the bone and tendon. They are found all over the body in areas where friction tends to develop. When these bursa sacs become inflamed, it leads to bursitis. Bursitis is most common in the hips, elbows, and knees. There are three types of bursitis: traumatic, gouty, and infectious. The type associated with repetitive stress injuries is traumatic bursitis.
- Lumbar injuries. Computer work, and the amount sitting involved with it, often causes lumbar injuries. Even if you have a more active position, you can still suffer from injuries. Heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling can cause lumbar sprains and strains. You could end up tearing muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules.
- Disc injuries. Poor posture and sitting for extended periods of time can lead to a back injury. This places a load on a spine and causes vertebral discs to sprain. The disc can also start to protrude and lead to a hernia. Hernias and sprains in the discs can cause significant pain and nerve damage.
- Stress fractures. When you overload your body repeatedly, you may develop stress fractures. These are tiny cracks found on the surface of the bone. These injuries occur when a bone is constantly stressed from running, walking, or jumping. Working on old, worn-out shoes can also lead to stress fractures. While athletes are more likely to suffer from stress fractures, they can also occur in workers who are fairly active and perform the same motions over and over during the course of a workday.
Treatment for Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries may require extensive treatment so that the patient can reduce pain, return to work, and live life as fully as possible. Function and independence are key goals.
The patient may undergo various forms of treatments and therapies, including occupational therapy and exercise programs to encourage stretching while increasing strength to the affected area. Conditioning exercises can prevent further injury from occurring, while heat and cold applications can reduce pain and inflammation.
Braces and splints can keep the affected area stable. Medications and other pain management techniques can alleviate pain. Education is also important, especially when it comes to ergonomics in the workplace. Proper seating, posture and hand positioning on the computer keyboard can alleviate pain and keep flare-ups from occurring.
Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Motion Injury
Repetitive motion injuries are the biggest health concern among workers, even though these types of injuries are the most challenging to get approved for workers’ compensation benefits. Repetitive motion injuries are not a one-time event like many workplace injuries. The injury develops over time, making it difficult to prove that it is work-related and therefore worthy of workers’ compensation benefits.
Pennsylvania law states that if the connection between the injury and the person’s work activity is not obvious, then injured person has the legal burden to prove the connection using medical testimony. This means that a doctor must prove that the repetitive stress injury was caused by the person’s work activities.
It is fine that doctors in a similar specialty might disagree. What matters is that there must be a clear connection. The testimony cannot be doubtful, vague, or open to interpretation. A workers’ compensation judge will make the final decision and determine whether or not there is enough evidence to prove a link.
If you have been injured by a repetitive stress injury, you may be unable to work for days, weeks, months, or even the rest of your life. It is important to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical expenses and lost income.
Get Help from a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
It is hard to prove that Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries occurred in a workplace setting. Filing a claim for these injuries is not an easy task, but with the right legal professional on your side, you may succeed and receive the compensation you deserve.
Pennsylvania has laws limiting the amount of time you have to notify your employer of the desire to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. In the case of a repetitive stress injury, you should inform your employer as soon as you notice the problem. You should first seek medical treatment and then legal advice to determine your next steps.
The team of Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo will advise you on how to receive appropriate medical treatment for your repetitive motion injury. We have been serving Philadelphia since 1936. Contact us today at 800.952.9640 or online to find out how we can help. A free consultation can help ensure that you understand your legal rights.
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