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Workplace Risks: Repetitive Motion Injuries & Chronic Pain
Written & Edited By: Cecily Johnson, Legal Assistant & PR Manager
Many types of employment require you to perform a repetitive task continuously throughout the workday. Over time, repetitive motion may result in cumulative trauma or injury. Since these injuries are formed over time, they can lead to chronic pain and other serious complications. Here is what you need to know:
Who Is At Risk For Repetitive Motion Injuries?
Anyone with an occupation that requires the same tasks to be performed repeatedly over time is at risk for repetitive motion injuries. However, here are a few of the most at-risk jobs for these kinds of injuries (Division of Workers’ Compensation – Injured worker information):
- Computer users/Typists
- Meat, poultry and fish packing workers
- Workers who use saws or jackhammers
- Postal workers
- Dental technicians
- Cake decorators
- Carpet installers
- Many kinds of assembly line workers
The Most Common Repetitive Motion Injuries
Your tendons are white fibrous tissue that connects your muscle to the bone. Tendons are extraordinarily strong but repetitive motion can cause inflammation. The most common sites for this inflammation to begin to appear in the shoulders, biceps, and elbows (Mayo clinic).
A Bursa is a sac that lubricates the area between the tendon and the bone. There are over 150 of these bursa sacs in your body, commonly found in the elbows, knees, and hips. When that sac becomes inflamed and irritated, it is called Bursitis (Mayo clinic).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm (Mayo clinic).
An inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath that surrounds a tendon, leading to joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Tendon is a fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bones (Mayo clinic).
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
A group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers (Mayo clinic).
Repetitive Motion Injuries Can Cause Chronic Pain
If you begin to develop one of the conditions above or one of the many others that are caused by long hours of repetitive motion, it might manifest into chronic pain. If you suffer from a repetitive motion injury at work, it is important to address it earlier rather than later. Certain injuries can occur over time and may require medical treatment. If your injury is work related, your employer could be liable to cover any costs.
Are You or a Loved One Experiencing Chronic Pain due to a Workplace Injury?
Employers may try to discredit your chronic pain and blame it on activities you enjoy outside of the workplace. Knowing your rights when it comes to addressing chronic pain that develops from repetitive motion tasks in the workplace is essential!
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Division of Workers’ Compensation – Injured worker information. (n.d.). Answers to frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation for employees. DWC FAQs for employees. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/wcfaqiw.html.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Mayo clinic. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/.
Repetitive motion injuries: Claims. US Workers Comp. (n.d.). https://www.usworkerscomp.com/workers-compensation-claims/repetitive-motion-injuries.