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Cumulative trauma: Some workplace injuries develop over time

When you think of a workplace injury, you may first imagine an acute condition that results from an accident. For example, slipping and falling causing a wrist fracture, or a falling object giving you a concussion. However, not all work injuries are sudden. Some occupational injuries develop over a long period of time.

Repetitive stress injuries and cumulative trauma disorders can easily occur at virtually any job. Here are some important facts you should know about overuse injuries at work.

Risk factors

Here are some workplace responsibilities, situations and environments that may increase your risk of repetitive trauma:

  • Repetitive job tasks
  • Working in awkward body positions
  • Frequent lifting
  • Heavy lifting
  • Strict production requirements
  • Forceful motions
  • Lifting and twisting 
  • Inadequate rest time
  • Working too many hours
  • Workstations with poor ergonomics
  • Bending and reaching

As you can see, you can develop physical complications at almost any occupation. Whether you work in an office or construction site, beware of strenuous and repetitive tasks. 

Injuries from repetitive stress and cumulative trauma

Overworking can cause you to develop a variety of injuries, including:

  • Neck injuries
  • Lower back injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis

Most injuries that occur because of overuse are soft-tissue injuries. This means there is some damage to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. However, some of these injuries can affect your nerves and bones too.

Treatment and management

If you develop an injury like this because of your work, your health care provider may recommend various treatment and management methods, including:

  • Resting
  • Avoiding the problematic activity
  • Physical therapy
  • Workplace modifications
  • Steroid injections
  • Pain medications
  • Surgery

You may have concerns about paying for treatment of your injuries. But if you have a successful workers compensation claim, your medical expenses will be covered. 

Injuries that develop over time should be treated just as seriously as acute trauma. Make sure you seek medical treatment and compensation for this type of injury.