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Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) in the Workplace
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common types of repetitive stress injuries that typically occurs from typing on a computer or using the wrists and hands in other ways many hours a day. However, office workers are not the only types of employees who deal with repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. The following categories of employees also face a higher than average risk of developing a repeated motion injury:
- Agricultural and meatpacking workers
- Bus, taxi, and truck drivers
- Delivery drivers
- Health care aides and nurses
- Highway workers
- Housekeeping service providers and janitors
- Machine operators
- Movers and packers
- Pipefitters and plumbers
- Warehouse workers
Of course, the above is not an all-inclusive list. Anyone who stands in the same position or uses a certain body part for hours every day runs the risk of developing repetitive stress injuries. The pain associated with repetitive stress injury can prevent people from working, force them to work only part-time or make them have to switch their line of work entirely. You are entitled to file for workers’ compensation benefits in New York if you have suffered from repetitive stress injuries of any kind due to the requirements of your job.
Unfortunately, the process of filing for benefits does not always go as smoothly as you would hope as an injured worker who still needs an income. Your employer may deny your claim stating that your injuries occurred in some other way other than performing your job duties or you may run into other problems. Terry Katz & Associates is an experienced Long Island, New York workers’ compensation law firm that can assist you no matter where you are at in your battle for fair compensation and treatment from your employer and its insurance company.
Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries & Their Symptoms
You may hear other names for repetitive stress injuries when you file a claim for workers’ compensation. Some of these include overuse injuries, cumulative trauma, or repetitive strain injuries. Regardless of the specific name used by your employer’s insurance company, repetitive stress injuries in the workplace can cause a wide range of specific conditions.
The most common classifications include:
- Bursitis: The bursa is a sack containing lubricating fluid located in the skin, bones, muscles, and tendons to prevent irritation and friction when they rub together. Bursitis is a condition involving inflammation of the bursa. It leaves the injured worker with little to no protection in the affected area and can be very painful.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: The median nerve runs from the palm of the hand to the forearm. A person has carpal tunnel syndrome when the median nerve becomes squeezed or compressed near the wrist due to repetitive motions.
- Chronic lower back pain: Lower back pain becomes chronic when it lasts for 12 or more weeks. It is a common condition both on and off the job. People who file workers’ compensation claims for chronic lower back pain typically bend and lift many times throughout the course of their workday.
- Epicondylitis (Tennis elbow): This condition occurs when the tendons that connect the muscles of the forearms to the elbow become inflamed. It earned the nickname of tennis elbow because it became very common among professional tennis players.
- Tendonitis: This is a general term for used to describe inflammation that occurs in tendons that connect muscles to bones. Tendons are a group of fibrous collagen cords in the body’s joints. Tendonitis can occur in the fingers, hands, feet, toes, knees, or any other body part used repeatedly on a daily basis.
- Rotator cuff syndrome: A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that make it possible for you to move the joints in your shoulder. Rotator cuff syndrome, also called impingement syndrome, means that the tendons and muscles of this part of your shoulder have become inflamed and irritated due to overuse.
- Trigger finger: This condition occurs when the tendons that make it possible to move your fingers become inflamed and causes pain and tenderness. The longer you have untreated trigger finger, the more difficulty you will experience trying to bend or straighten your finger.
Most repetitive stress injuries have similar symptoms because they stem from inflammation somewhere in the body. Here is a list of some of the most commonly reported symptoms:
- Assuming awkward body positions to make certain actions less painful
- Clumsiness or poor balance
- Coldness of hands that persists despite attempts to warm them
- Lack of feeling in the hands
- Lack of physical stamina
- Tingling sensation or numbness
- Using your non-dominant hand if using your dominant hand causes pain
People who work in highly stressful jobs, don’t get enough sleep, have loose joints, or who lead a sedentary lifestyle have a greater risk than other workers of developing one of these conditions.
Repetitive Stress Injury Workers’ Compensation
A repeated stress injury is a legitimate reason to file a workers’ compensation claim in New York. However, it differs from other types of injuries in that it usually develops slowly over time. You should notify your immediate supervisor in writing as soon as you make the connection between your injuries and your job duties. Next, you need to file an official injury form and request for benefits and submit it to your nearest workers’ compensation processing center. You should receive a letter within two weeks informing you of receipt of your claim and whether you received an approval.
Injured workers tend to have more difficulty with filing a claim for repetitive stress injuries than other types of injuries. Because they happen slowly, it will not be as obvious as other types of injuries that happen in a more dramatic fashion. You’re also unlikely to have witnesses to back up your claim. Insurance company agents for workers’ compensation claims know this and may count on you not fighting back when you receive a denial.
You have the right to hire an attorney to help you file an initial application, appeal a denial or reduced benefits, or argue for the right to see the doctor of your choice.
Talk with an RSI Attorney About Your Claim
At Terry Katz & Associates, we understand that fighting for your rightful workers’ compensation benefits can be extremely stressful. We want you to know that our experienced attorneys are here to represent your interests. Please contact our office at 888-488-7459 to request a free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys today.