Repetitive strain injury is an often undervalued and sometimes forgotten aspect of workers’ compensation benefit packages. When people think of workers’ comp claims or even workplace injuries at large, it’s typically the result of a singular event or accident.
Arguably, we can attribute this to the fact that many of these incidents cause very severe injuries. That said, the day-to-day tasks and duties that you have to complete at your job can, on the surface, appear harmless, but these repetitive motions can be causing long-term damage to your body.
Understanding repetitive strain injury and the role that workers’ compensation benefits play in resolving these work-related issues is essential. Otherwise, you could be left to suffer from long-term discomfort and have to pay out-of-pocket to seek treatment for your repetitive strain injuries.
What is a Repetitive Strain Injury
Arepetitive strain injury(also commonly referred to as a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, cumulative worker trauma and overuse injury) doesn’t happen suddenly. Instead, they are brought on by the increasing strain that your body endures on a daily basis because of your work and the tasks that you must perform.
For example, a cashier that has to swipe and scan products all day could, over a period, develop some conditions, like tendonitis or rotator cuff strain. Similarly, an office worker could experience repetitive stress from typing and staring at a computer screen, resulting in
carpal tunnel syndrome or strain to their eyes.
At almost any job position, there’s some level of repetitive motions going on, which means nearly everyone is susceptible to repetitive strain injuries, from labor workers to executives. While these activities may seem harmless and unimpactful, because you’re performing them so often, they can cause quite a toll on your body, if you aren’t paying careful attention to your day-to-day aches and pains.
Detecting a Repetitive Strain Injury
The problematic part of repetitive strain injuries is discovering and identifying them. Again, your typical workers’ compensation claim comes as a result of a bad accident. It’s immediately known that an injury has taken place. With repetitive strain injuries, on the other hand, it is much harder to understand that an injury has taken place. It happens over time, and any initial symptoms will feel very slight. You may not experience anysymptoms outside of work at all.
Thus, it is easy to brush off a repetitive strain injury, until it manifests itself into a much larger issue. Without proper treatment, that slight amount of strain can grow into more significant pain and make it difficult to perform your job. Sometimes, the more severe effects of a repetitive strain injury don’t occur until years later.
Some of the symptoms of repetitive strain injuries are:
- Pain- ranging from moderate and sustained aches to severe, sharp pains that flare up from specific movements
- Tingling- anywhere from just a soft fuzziness after work, to numbness or even loss of feeling
- Loss of Strength and/or Movement – repetitive strain injuries can cause weaker muscles and joints, which make it hard to move naturally or perform at maximum strength
- Fatigue- the affected muscle, joint or part of your body will tire more easily than it used to, which will make it difficult to withstand more extended shifts
- More Difficult to Recover – as the repetitive strain injury develops and worsens, it will become harder to recover, and the strain will become more consistent
What to Do If You Suspect A Repetitive Strain Injury
First, it is essential to take any of the symptoms as mentioned above or warning signs seriously. Even a small discomfort that quickly dissipates could quickly return and be the seed of a more severe and growing repetitive strain injury. If you choose to “tough it out,” as many workers do, you’re not only going to exacerbate the damage and cause more significant health issues down the road, but you also could be hurting your ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits for the injury.
You should pay particular attention to how any ongoing aches, pains, and other potential injuries related to your job and work-related duties. For instance, if you’re feeling a pain in your wrist, then ask yourself when the pain is the worst, what are you doing at the time and what level of discomfort do you experience while working. These questions can help you pinpoint the activity that is causing the strain and better understand if it is work-related or otherwise.
The Doctor’s Visit and Evaluation of Your Repetitive Strain Injury
Once you’ve assessed your injury and had a better idea of what the cause may be, it is time to visit a doctor. Because you’re seeking to claim workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to follow your employer’s chosen workers’ comp system and choose an appropriate and approved medical professional within the plan’s constraints.
You’ll want to tell the doctor what you were doing when you felt the symptoms or injury, how long you’ve experienced the discomfort and answer any other questions they may have for you. If you’ve taken the time to evaluate the cause(s) and severity of your repetitive strain injury, it will be much easier to answer these questions and get yourself the medical solution you need.
Often, the medical professional will prescribe some changes to your schedule or working environment. For example, if you’re experiencing back pain, as a result of repetitive strain caused by your desk and office chair, the physician may recommend that your company provide you with a more ergonomic chair or even a standing desk.
Alternatively, the doctor may prescribe adjustments to your work schedule. For a more advanced repetitive strain injury, he or she may recommend time off from work. If your damage is less severe, the doctor may prescribe anything from longer breaks to shorter shifts or less time performing the injury-causing activities. For any lost time, it’s vital that your wages are still protected. You don’t want to lose income because your repetitive strain injury is preventing you from working!
Filing a Claim for Your Repetitive Strain Injury
Every state has its own set of laws and regulations regarding repetitive strain injuries and the process that a worker must go through to receive their workers’ comp benefits. Luckily, Pennsylvania repetitive injury laws are generally more relaxed than other states that only cover certain types of injuries brought on by repetitive actions or motions.
However, timing is an essential factor in any workers’ compensation claim. There is a statute of limitations surrounding how long after discovering your repetitive strain injury that you can file your claim and potentially collect benefits. That’s why having the best repetitive strain injury lawyer in Philadelphia is crucial because it not only means that your claim will be successful, but it also helps to ensure that everything is handled correctly and promptly.
If your claim is denied by your company’s workers’ compensation employer, it is crucial that you contact the top workers’ compensation attorney. This individual will help you prove that work-related activities caused your injury and that you are owed proper benefits. Without this right legal solution, you could be left to pay medical costs or lose any wages as a result of time off taken to recover from your repetitive strain injury.
Choosing the Right Legal Solution
You want to look for a highly skilled law firm that has direct experience with workers’ compensation cases in your area. Many lawyers have decades worth of direct focus on these types of cases. Through this long, detailed history of helping people access the benefits they are owed, these firms have seen practically everything, when it comes to workers’ compensation cases. Thus, they’ll be familiar with the unique characteristics of your case and know how to approach your workers’ compensation case to achieve the best results.
Again, timing is a big concern for workers’ compensation cases that involve repetitive strain injuries. As soon as you discover this disability, you need to start filing your claim. It’s encouraged that you don’t delay and begin this process as early as possible and with the right legal solution by your side, especially if you’re worried about your claim being denied.