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What is a repetitive stress injury?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

Job injuries are often the result of sudden and catastrophic workplace accidents. If a machine breaks down or someone operating a vehicle fails to notice another employee standing behind them, someone might suffer a severe and immediate injury. There’s no denying that someone with a crushing injury to their foot or a broken leg from a fall got hurt on the job.

Many people who get hurt at work don’t experience a catastrophic incident. Instead, the job that they do causes a little bit of damage to their body every day. These workers may develop repetitive stress injuries that require medical care and either time away from work or different job responsibilities.

What causes repetitive stress injuries?

As the name implies, a repetitive stress injury is the result of your body doing the same thing repeatedly. Humans are not machines, and expecting someone to perform the same task for eight hours a day and five days a week over the course of several decades can do significant harm to their body.

Repetitive stress injuries often affect connective tissue and cause pain, reduced strength and decreased range of motion in the affected body part. Such injuries are among the most common workplace injuries.

Those diagnosed with conditions like bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, trigger finger and ganglion cysts have a repetitive stress injury. Left untreated, these injuries will continue to progress and may eventually permanently end certain physical capabilities in affected individuals.

Who is most at risk of a repetitive stress injury?

Anyone who does the same labor every day could potentially develop a repetitive stress injury, but certain work has a stronger association with repetitive stress injuries. The most at-risk professions include:

  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Retail work including cash register operation or stocking
  • Manual sewing
  • Health care

Others at increased risk for repetitive stress injuries at work include entertainment providers like professional musicians, office workers and prep or line cooks. Anyone who has to frequently perform the same manual task is at risk. The more often they perform the same work and the longer they stay in the same industry, the greater the risk of developing a repetitive stress injury.

Current statistics indicate that office staff suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is the leading cause of workplace repetitive stress injuries, although many other professionals can develop these painful and limiting conditions. Workers’ compensation benefits can connect those with repetitive stress injuries with medical care and also replace their wages if they need time off during their treatment.