Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Repetitive-strain injuries: More damaging than you may believe

Injuries don't always happen due to a single traumatic incident. Some of the most painful, longest-lasting injuries result from repetitive strain. Take, for example, the grocery cashier who runs items over the scanner for several hours every workday.

That same movement, performed for many days, weeks, months or years, can add up. The strain on the wrists, shoulders and arms, the back or other parts of the body can eventually lead to an injury.

Will workers' compensation cover injuries due to repetitive strain?

Yes. Workers' compensation covers all injuries that are a result of your work. If you develop carpal tunnel from being a cashier, for instance, your workers' compensation insurance should cover your needs in terms of rehabilitation, lost wages and medical care.

Workers' compensation also offers benefits to help you get back to work. Vocational training can help you find a new job that won't continue to put strain on the parts of your body that already suffered injuries. With these benefits, many people who suffer injuries are able to learn to do new work that helps them avoid injuries.

Repetitive-strain injuries can cause more damage than you think

If you're still not sure if you want to make a claim, remember that repetitive-strain injuries can cause more damage than you can tell from the pain you're feeling. The repetitive motions you've been making day after day can affect a wrist or other body part as well as muscles in other areas of the body as your body works to compensate for the injury. In addition, the injury can cause you psychological stress, which may worsen the symptoms.

Can workers avoid repetitive-strain injuries?

Yes. The great thing about understanding repetitive-strain injuries is that it gives you better insight into how to avoid injuries. Workers can avoid injuries by focusing on ways to reduce those movements. For example, if your wrist is bent when running items from the conveyor belt to the scanner and bagging area, then adjusting to ergonomic positioning can reduce the impact to your body. Changing the height of your chair, for example, might give you a less strenuous position to work from.

Though there have been advances in technology, repetitive-strain injuries are as common as ever, if not more common. It's essential that your employer takes the risks to your health seriously and provides you with ergonomic solutions when they're able to be used in your work environment.

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