Repetitive Stress Injuries

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive stress (or strain) injuries (RSI) are the country’s most common and most costly occupational health problem. RSIs affect hundreds of thousands of workers a year and cost more than $20 billion per year in workers’ compensation claims. RSIs are typically caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers’ upper bodies. However, the conditions could appear on any part of the body that sees repeated strain or stress because of a person’s occupation. Here are the most common types of RSIs and how to prevent them in the workplace.

Trigger Finger

The tendons located on the palmar surface of the hand glide through tunnels called tendon sheaths, which act to keep the tendons in proper position against the bones. If the tendons become inflamed, it can cause the flexor tendon to thicken and form nodules, which make it difficult to pass through the sheath. This nodule can cause the finger to get stuck in a bent position as the finger is being straightened. The finger may then “pop” straight with effort. Jobs involving repetitive lifting, use of a jackhammer, and pushing and pulling heavy objects with great force could cause trigger finger. Likewise, assembly line jobs and other manufacturing jobs that require standing in a particular position while making repetitive movements for extended periods of time and administrative or other office positions that include repetitive typing and mouse clicking can cause the condition.

Tennis Elbow

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow happens if there is pain focused on the outside of the arm, where the forearm meets your elbow. This pain is caused when the tendons that flex the elbow develop small tears, leading to inflammation. Tennis elbow can make it painful to lift and grip things. This type of injury is another classic RSI. Any job that involves straining the muscles around the elbow repeatedly can cause the condition, such as tree-cutting, painting, carpentry, playing some types of musical instruments, cooking, and assembly line work. Butchers also get this condition often. You can help prevent tennis elbow by doing exercises to stretch and strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles.

Cubital and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

These two types of RSIs affect the fingers in the hand. Cubital tunnel syndrome causes pain, paralysis, or numbness of the ring and little fingers, which may progress up the arm. It happens when the ulnar nerve is pinched along the elbow’s edge and causes a tingling or painful feeling. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the first three fingers of the hand and is caused when the median nerve is compressed in the carpal tunnel (located in the central part of the wrist). People who need to use the keyboard and jobs involving the use of vibrating tools and machinery are at the most risk of developing these conditions. Likewise, cubital tunnel syndrome is likely to affect those people whose work involves protracted periods of elbow flexion (such as holding a telephone for extended periods of time).

Chronic Back Pain

Back pain is a blanket term referring to a wide range of disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or other soft tissues or joints. Chronic back pain as an RSI happens when your job causes you to work in non-ergonomic conditions or causes extreme amounts of stress or strain on your back muscles, such as jobs involving heavy lifting.

The only way to avoid these RSIs is to steer clear of overuse. If you begin to experience stiffness, swelling, or pain in these areas, ensure to give them plenty of rest. Alternating activities can also keep your fingers from becoming inflamed. If you do experience a repetitive strain injury or suffer an accident at work, make sure to inform your supervisor in writing as soon as possible and visit the doctor.

Seeing a physician after acquiring an injury on the job is an essential step in getting workers’ compensation insurance to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. Likewise, in the state of Illinois, you are required to inform your employer or supervisor of your injury within 45 days to get workers’ comp.

If you need help filing a claim, or your claim was denied, don’t hesitate to talk to our skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys. Leonard Law Group has successfully represented hundreds of employees who have sustained injuries on the job. Let us help you seek compensation for your injury or illness. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to pursue your case effectively. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning we won’t ask you to pay any legal fees unless we can win your case for you. Our attorneys understand you and your family might be under a lot of financial strain, so we will do our best to make the legal process as stress-free as possible. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (312) 487-2513 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

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