Is Your Repetitive Stress Injury Work Related?
A function of your job should not result in damage to your body. Yet, every day, many workers put themselves at risk for developing an injury based purely on performing their job. A repetitive stress or strain injury is not something that happens due to an accident. Instead, it develops slowly and may cause more damage because the signs and symptoms may not always present clearly. Discover what this type of injury is and how workers’ compensation should deal with it.
What Are Repetitive Strain Injuries?
A repetitive stress injury occurs when you perform the same muscle movement multiple times a day. Over time, the areas of the body that you use to do these tasks start to become inflamed and break down. You begin to feel pain when this occurs. If you do not take corrective action, such as changing body positioning or resting the body part, the pain will likely intensify. Eventually, you may do permanent damage that requires medical intervention and surgery to correct.
Common Examples of Workplace Repetitive Stress Injuries
The strain on ligaments, tendons and muscles can occur in any job that requires you to conduct the same movements over the course of the day. Learn more about common repetitive strain injuries workers sustain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The most common repetitive injury workers deal with is carpal tunnel syndrome. People whose profession requires extensive use of the wrists, such as typing or sewing, often find themselves dealing with the injury to some degree. The damage occurs when pressure is repeatedly exerted on the median nerve or the ligaments that surround it. This nerve runs through the wrist, and when it becomes impacted by the inflammation of surrounding tissue, it causes pain in the wrist, hands, and fingers. Symptoms of carpal tunnel also include loss of sensation in the fingers, tingling through the hand, and a noticeable decrease in grip strength. Professions most affected include hairdressers, cashiers, typists, sewists, and factory workers.
Joint pain can be some of the worst pain. Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion joints. When these bursae become swollen, they place pressure on the joints and cause pain. The most common areas people experience bursitis include the hips and shoulders. Some people may experience the condition in their knees or heels. Professions that have to deal with this type of injury include cooks, landscapers, and roofers. Whenever a job requires the worker to place repeated pressure on joints, there is the chance bursitis will develop.
Athletes are especially susceptible to repetitive stress injuries, as they spend hours a day engaged in high-impact activities. Tennis players, for example, may develop a strain of the nerve running down the elbow channel. The resulting condition, appropriately named tennis elbow, may come with swelling, limited mobility of the arm, and pain. However, tennis players are not the only people at risk of developing this condition. Many job positions apply the same type of strain to the elbow. Labor intensive professionals, such as plumbers, butchers, and painters, may have to deal with this condition at some point.
How Does the Workers’ Compensation Process Work?
Companies that are required under state law to carry workers’ compensation coverage have a process for dealing with employee injuries and illnesses. When you find that your pain is related to the performance of your regular job duties, you have the right to file a claim for benefits.
Seek Medical Help
The first step in the workers’ compensation claims process is receiving a medical report documenting the injury and a recommended course of action to rectify it. In the case of a repetitive strain injury, it is likely you did not think your job was the cause. The doctor you visit should ask you qualifying questions, which should include questions about the type of work you do. If the diagnosis of a repetitive stress injury relates to your job, the doctor will notate it in the report.
File a First Report of Injury for your Repetitive Stress Injury
Once you receive the diagnosis, take it to your supervisor or human resources representative. There, you will make a first report of injury. You will present the medical report and give an oral account of your symptoms and the timeline of onset. The company rep will then prepare a first report of injury and transmit it along with the doctor’s findings to the workers’ comp carrier.
Go Through the Investigation
When a workers’ compensation carrier receives a new report of injury, it investigates the claim. When there is a work accident that causes the damage, the investigation may go quicker. A repetitive injury may require more time. Throughout, you may be asked to attend additional medical screenings and tests as indicated. You should be able to choose the doctor, but you may have to attend something called an independent medical evaluation. This doctor prepares an impartial report based on the medical evidence you present and what is discovered during the examination. This report may either indicate your injury is work-related or that there needs to be further testing.
Receive Benefits From the Insurer
The insurer should pay for your medical visits and treatment, even while the investigation is ongoing. If your claim is accepted, the carrier should also begin paying benefits, such as:
- Disability payments, if unable to work
- Past wages lost due to the injury
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medication
- Future medical treatment
A repetitive strain injury takes time to heal correctly. In some instances, surgery is required. It is crucial that you get the compensation you deserve for your injury and not settle for less.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
An attorney well-versed in how to handle workers’ compensation claims of this nature is a critical ally. They understand how the workers’ compensation process works and how the carrier may try to get you to settle your claim instead of paying all the benefits you need. Having a lawyer represent your best interests can make all the difference in this type of case. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!