Repetitive Stress – Is it Really an Injury?

Repetitive Strain Injuries

The usual aches and pains of daily labor are seldom considered to be very serious—just something that comes with the job, you might say. However, there are instances in which this goes beyond normal fatigue, affecting your quality of life and your ability to work. These injuries, known as repetitive stress injuries (or, more recently, occupational overuse syndrome), can be debilitating and highly unpleasant.

But are they really injuries? And if they are, can they qualify you for workers’ compensation?

Common Forms of RSI

To answer the first question, let’s take a look at a few examples of repetitive stress injuries. These can result from a variety of workplace tasks, including ones in which injury isn’t normally considered to be that likely, such as operating a computer or scanning items at a grocery store checkout. Common forms of repetitive trauma injury include:

  • Carpal tunnel, which involves swelling within the wrist and often results from typing
  • Tendinitis, in which the tissue connecting bones to muscles is torn
  • Myofascial damage, in which muscles become tender or begin to swell
  • Cervical radiculopathy, which involves compressed spinal disks in the neck

Symptoms of these issues include pain, tenderness, swelling, tingling, and numbness in the affected area. In some cases, this can become quite severe, leading to a diminished ability to work and decreased quality of life. In this case, it truly can be considered a real injury, and it should be taken seriously.

But will these injuries qualify you for workers’ comp?

Psychosocial Factors

There are a number of factors involved in repetitive trauma injuries, not all of which are completely physical. Numerous studies conducted as a result of RSI outbreaks in Australia in the 1980s indicate that one psychosocial factor can have a significant impact on whether you develop a repetitive strain injury. That factor is job satisfaction.

It was shown that individuals who find a higher level of satisfaction in their work tend to be less likely to develop these injuries. Thus, it’s not just the physical conditions of the workplace, the nature of the work, or the number of hours you put in, but the overall social and psychological climates of your place of employment.

Just because these factors aren’t wholly physical does not mean your injury is merely something imagined. A repetitive trauma injury is real enough, and the atmosphere of your workplace could be taken into account when determining the cause of your injury.

Role in Workers’ Compensation

Since these injuries occur over an extended length of time, they can be difficult to link to the workplace. However, with skilled legal assistance, you can get the help you need. Workers’ compensation is designed to protect the rights of employees in all industries, and it can help cover a variety of costs, including:

  • Doctor visits
  • Medication
  • Disability
  • Rehabilitation
  • Retraining

Again, getting access to these benefits requires a thorough assessment of your condition and skilled legal aid. Hart & David can provide you with the legal help in these matters, so if you are experiencing the results of a repetitive strain injury, contact us today.

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