Whether you work at a desk, at a construction site, or a medical office, a large variety of professions may find they are at risk of Repetitive Stress Injuries. Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI), also known as Repetitive Strain Injuries or Cumulative Trauma Disorder, are essentially injuries of the musculoskeletal and/or nervous system that arise from a repeated motion or activity. These injuries can result from both seemingly benign activities such as using a computer mouse or long-term driving, as well as from clearly intensive activities such as heavy lifting or using construction equipment like jackhammers or shovels. All workers, therefore, benefit from a better understanding of how to both identify and prevent an RSI.
As the name implies, RSIs are caused when a person consistently uses the same musculoskeletal or nerve group to repeat the same task over and over. Doing so puts strain on those areas, leading at times to an injury from overuse. And as the repetition of this activity continues, the strained area is not allowed to heal, steadily exacerbating the condition. Ultimately, the area becomes not just strained but inflamed, and tissue or nerve damage may result. While RSI is most associated with the upper body, particularly the hands, arms, neck, shoulders and back, it can include the hips and lower extremities.
One of the most common types of RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the tissue of the wrist becomes inflamed, pinching the median nerve as it passes from the arm into the hand. This injury can often arise as a result of common activities involving the hand and wrist, such as repetitive keyboard use, repetitive driving, or repetitive stocking of even light-weight products. Tenosynovitis, inflammation of the joint, is another common RSI, as is bursitis and tendonitis. Another injury, so called “tennis” or “golfer’s” elbow, is as easily caused through regular work activity as it is in recreation. Since repetitive stress injuries can affect so many different parts of the body, to varying degrees, they manifest their symptoms in a multitude of ways. Even among similar injuries, no one symptom is universal among sufferers. Generally, however, the common complaint is discomfort or pain. Other complaints include muscular weakness, stiffness, swelling, numbness or tingling. Sadly, sometimes these injuries can be severe enough to both limit normal movement as well as prevent the performance of work duties.
Avoiding these injuries may be dependent upon the event or action that causes the injury, but some universal practices can be applied. First, and easiest, alter the activity that results in your injury. Ideally, you will not be forced to cease this activity completely, but it may mean you need to adjust how you perform the activity. For instance, add regular breaks and allow rest of the muscles and nerves. Try adjusting your activity through change of overall posture, or by changing the angle or force applied to complete a task. Practice safe work habits such as lifting from your legs rather than your back, and using ergonomic tools such as adjustable keyboards, and wrist, shoulder and back supports. If you are currently suffering from an injury, consider seeking medical assistance. Physicians may prescribe a variety of methods towards your healing, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone treatments, and even physical therapy or surgery. If you experience a work-related repetitive stress injury, contact a Chicago workers compensation lawyer who can assist you in seeking help for your injuries.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.