Repetitive stress injuries, also known as repetitive strain injuries, occur as a result of engaging in a particular motion or set of motions that over time cause injuries to muscles, tendons, tendon sheaths, nerves, joints, and other body parts. These injuries are also sometimes called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or ergonomic injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 300,000 workers reported these types of injuries in 2018.
Most often, the injury is a function of overuse over a period of time. They are compensable injuries under Georgia workers’ compensation laws though they can pose a challenge to prove. When these injuries occur, treatment is essential. Left untreated, they can cause painful conditions that prevent a worker from fulfilling their job duties and interfering in daily life.
Common Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive motions are common in many workplaces. Think of a grocery clerk scanning items across a scanner all day or a coder or legal secretary who is on a computer for hours on end. The number of motions performed in these jobs is limited but performed repeatedly for hours on end.
The workers most at risk for repetitive injuries are those whose job requires either continued repetitive hand motions that require a high degree of accuracy or increased difficulty or those whose jobs require forceful and continual motions over time. Particularly at risk are office workers, manufacturers, fabricators, grocery clerks, and laborers.
Some of the most common types of repetitive injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Herniated discs
- Tennis elbow
- Compressed nerves
Proving Repetitive Stress injuries
These injuries are often difficult to prove in a workers’ compensation case. The employer knows what tasks are involved in the job itself. In some ways, the injured worker must prove that the injury was caused by their job and not by any other activity they are involved in.
Proximity in time can sometimes help. Let us say that you get a new job typing in a law firm for six hours a day. Within two months, you start to develop pain in your right wrist and arm. You do not have any other activities that involve sustained wrist or hand activity. Here causation may be fairly straightforward.
Many of these injuries come on gradually, so it becomes difficult to discern when an injury occurs. You may experience an intermittent ache, numbness, or tingling. Noting when even these minor complaints first make an appearance can make a difference in terms of causation.
Often, your doctor can help you determine what has caused your injuries. Report your activities and complaints to your doctor, including when the first symptoms appear and other activities in which you have engaged. This evaluation can eliminate other activities and can help you connect the injury to your workplace. Your doctor may provide you a written report that can help you prove your repetitive stress injuries in a workers’ compensation claim.
Free Case Evaluation with a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Every client is unique and valued at the Gearhart Law Group. We know how to manage your claim and value your case so that your needs are taken care of when you need it most. We represent injured workers with diligence, compassion, and personal service. Get a free initial case evaluation by contacting us at (404) 445-3960 or email us directly using the form on this page.
Repetitive Stress Injury FAQ
How Do I Know When the Pain is Bad Enough to Report to My Employer?
If you notice any pain, tingling, numbness, or discomfort in the same location over any period of time as you are working, you should report it and see your doctor.
Workers’ Comp Has Denied My Claim. What Do I Do Now?
You can file an appeal. Bring your questions and concerns to a trusted attorney to get the help you need.
Shouldn’t I Wait Until the Pain Gets Bad?
No. Get help early on. Early intervention can mean less pain for less time.