Many people believe that workers' compensation only applies to workplace accidents. However, injuries leading to workers' compensation benefits don't have to be caused by an isolated event. In fact, many successful claims involve damage caused by wear and tear. These are known as repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs.
RSIs result from repeatedly engaging in forceful or awkward movements during the workday. They often involve the upper body, including forearms and elbows, wrists and hands, and necks and shoulders, but any part of the body can be affected.
Common RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and low-back musculoskeletal disorders.
How do I know if I have a repetitive stress injury?
Repetitive stress injuries often start as an annoyance and then develop into something more debilitating. RSIs can cause workers to miss work or live with severe pain. Symptoms can vary greatly from person-to-person, but common symptoms include:
- joint and/or muscle tenderness
- joint and/or muscle pain
- tingling, throbbing or pulsating in the affected area
- loss of strength or sensation in the affected area
Workers in certain job types are most at-risk for RSIs, including:
- line-factory work
- extensive typing or computer work
- work requiring heavy lifting
What should I do if I have a repetitive stress injury?
The first thing to do if you believe that you are suffering from a repetitive stress injury is to see your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the problem and recommend treatment methods. For example, physical therapy, regular stretching and physical exercise may help reduce the symptoms of RSIs.
The second step is to report the injury to your employer. Many injured workers are afraid to report injuries to their employers, but this is an important step to take so that there is record of your injury.
Contrary to popular belief, an RSI can qualify a worker for workers' compensation benefits that can help cover medical bills and lost wages. In fact, one in three dollars paid out in workers' compensation benefits are for RSIs.
However, careful steps need to be taken in order to get the benefits that you deserve.
Therefore, the third step you should take is finding an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. Insurance companies can make it difficult to secure benefits relating to RSIs, which is why you will need an effective lawyer on your side.