Will workers’ compensation cover a repetitive stress injury?
Let us say that you have worked for the same company for several years and have never suffered a work injury until now. You have developed a painful wrist condition from daily computer use, and your co-worker thinks it is a repetitive stress injury. What is the next step? Will workers’ compensation cover this kind of injury?
About repetitive stress injuries
Repetitive stress injuries develop over time and primarily affect soft tissues such as muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments. Examples of those who are at most at risk for this kind of injury are carpenters, tennis players, gardeners, musicians and assembly line workers. For someone like you who works on a computer all day, a wrist injury is not unusual and may be carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries are usually caused by repeated motions. Similar issues, such as bursitis, tendinitis and epicondylitis—often called tennis elbow—can develop due to overexertion, awkward motions, muscle fatigue or even incorrect posture.
What to do
When you sustain any kind of work-related injury, your next step is to inform your supervisor and explain that you wish to file a workers’ compensation claim. Next, you should see a doctor as soon as possible and obtain a diagnosis. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, as your co-worker believes, the doctor may have you wear a splint. Other treatment could include physical therapy and home remedies, such as managing the discomfort with NSAIDs. Properly managing a repetitive stress injury is essential. Without treatment, the injury could become permanent. In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, you could lose functionality in your wrist.
What to expect
It may be a shock to learn that repetitive stress injuries are among the most common issues reported in terms of workers’ compensation claims. In most cases, the prognosis is good. With proper treatment, including making certain changes in the way you approach repetitive motion, you can expect a complete recovery.