Workers' Compensation for Repetitive Strain Injuries: What You Should Know

Repetitive Strain Injuries Therapy

Repetitive strain injuries have impacted workers for centuries. Doctors first identified these injuries among factory workers in the 1700s, and their prevalence continues today across all industries.

Repetitive strain injuries, or cumulative trauma disorders, are caused by small tears in the tendons and muscles after overusing a joint or limb. If you don’t take enough time to recover, injury can set in. In today’s workforce, nearly anyone can develop a repetitive strain injury over the course of their career. 

Understanding how these injuries develop is the first step in preventing them. If you’re already suffering from a repetitive strain injury, however, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. 

Common Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries, also called musculoskeletal disorders, can occur throughout the body. Workers frequently suffer musculoskeletal disorders in their: 

  • Hands
  • Knees
  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Forearms
  • Elbows
  • Lower back

RSIs can present in many different ways. When we meet with workers suffering from musculoskeletal disorders, they often complain of:

  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling & Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Cramps
  • Weakness
  • Throbbing

Catching these symptoms early on is critical for the worker’s wellbeing. Left unchecked by a doctor, RSIs can grow more serious. Your symptoms may become chronic and some of the damage may be permanent. 

Worker in therapy

Workers At Risk for Repetitive Strain Injuries 

Any job where workers frequently engage in repetitive motions can lead to cumulative trauma. Here’s a small sample of workers who are at risk:

  • Trade workers - Electricians, plumbers, and construction workers often manipulate tools and machinery throughout the day. When mixed with frequent lifting, bending, and squatting, these actions make workers susceptible to RSIs.
  • Office workers - Repeated use of a keyboard or mouse can lead to extra strain on the hands and forearms.
  • Medical workers - Nurses, physical therapists, and EMTs are all susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders because of the high-stress nature of their work and frequent lifting of patients.
  • Grocery store workers - Repeatedly scanning items and stocking shelves while bending, squatting, and lifting can lead to repetitive strain injuries throughout the body.
  • Janitorial/housekeeping workers - Frequent bending and reaching while wiping surfaces, operating machinery, and completing other common tasks can result in an RSI. 
  • Restaurant workers - Repeated motions like pouring drinks or chopping food can strain a worker’s hands and forearms.
  • Delivery drivers - Because delivery drivers frequently climb in and out of trucks, many suffer knee injuries. 

These aren’t the only workers or industries at risk. To protect yourself, monitor your body for symptoms. If you experience pain, numbness, or other discomfort, you should consult with your doctor and direct supervisor.

Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Strain Injuries and Cumulative Trauma Disorders

If you’re suffering from a work-related repetitive strain injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. Visit your doctor if you feel pain or discomfort throughout the workday. Your doctor’s perspective is valuable in a workers’ compensation case because repetitive strain injuries develop over time and could be compounded by different actions. If you are a bricklayer by day and play videogames on your computer at night, your carpal tunnel symptoms could be the result of either activity. Knowing which one is the major cause is important because your employer and their insurance company may try to argue that your injury was caused by after-hours activities. 

Once you know or have reason to believe you have a work-related cumulative trauma injury, inform your supervisor. Pennsylvania state law grants you 120 days to report an injury to your employer in order to receive workers’ compensation. If a worker takes longer than 120 days to report, they may not receive workers’ compensation benefits. 

For additional support, contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Workers’ compensation law is complicated, and an experienced attorney can simplify the process. 

Contact Dugan & Associates

If you’ve developed a work-related repetitive strain injury, contact Dugan & Associates. We’ll fight against the insurance company to help you get the check you deserve.

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