Repetitive Motion Injuries on the Job

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What Is a Repetitive Motion Injury?

A repetitive motion injury is sustained by doing a specific repetitive motion for prolonged periods of time. Though such an injury may seem at first to not be a big deal, continued repetition of the movement can prevent your body from ever healing properly, which can lead to lasting pain that never fully goes away. Here’s what you need to know about repetitive motion injuries on the job, how to prevent them, and what to do if you think you may have one.

If you’ve ever awakened with a sore shoulder, stiff neck, or pain in your arm or leg, you know that it can be a little more difficult to go about your day with a nagging body ache. Now imagine that your neck, shoulder, arm, or leg continues to bother you day after day, week after week and that the pain affects your ability to perform the tasks necessary for your job. This is what a repetitive motion injury feels like. People who suffer from repetitive motion injuries can become discouraged or even depressed due to the sometimes intolerable pain that is caused by the movements they do over and over. A repetitive motion injury can affect far more than a person’s on-the-job performance- pain resulting from a repetitive motion injury can have a significant impact on a sufferer’s quality of life.

Repetitive motion injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries, may occur in any line of work where the same movements are repeated over and over. This includes typing on a computer keyboard, lifting heavy objects, pulling a lever, and pushing down on an object, among many other causes. One of the most common repetitive motion injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, affects those who spend a lot of time typing on a computer keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrists, causing often intense wrist pain when a person is typing.

How Can I Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries on the Job?

The only way to truly prevent a repetitive motion injury is to stop doing the motion that is causing you to feel pain. This may mean taking more frequent breaks to rest the body part that is performing the movement. Additionally, many braces, pads, and other equipment are available to help you prevent your body from an on-the-job repetitive motion injury. For example, back belts may be a good idea for anyone who does a lot of heavy lifting in a typical work day, though according to OSHA, they are not proven to be as effective as taking frequent breaks. Additionally, carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented by a broad range of wrist braces, gel-filled keyboard wrist rests, and mouse pads designed to help cushion your wrists and keep them at a better angle as you type.  Once again, however, taking frequent breaks to rest your wrists and do some preventive exercises is strongly recommended.

Do I Have a Repetitive Motion Injury?

If you find that you are in near-constant pain in a part of your body directly related to a task you perform over and over again at work, you may have a repetitive motion injury. It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to diagnose your injury and take steps toward recovery. Additionally, you should let your employer know immediately about the repetitive motion injury you have sustained on the job, as this counts as a workplace injury and must be filed accordingly. You will need to fill out paperwork detailing the nature of your injury, including where and how it was sustained. You may be entitled to worker’s compensation if you are unable to continue doing your job while you are recovering.

We all get injured from time to time, and it’s not uncommon to experience little twinges of pain here and there. However, if the pain is being caused by a repetitive motion that is part of your job, you may be suffering from a repetitive motion injury. If your position at work depends heavily on your ability to perform the movement that is causing problems, you may not think there is anything you can do about it. However, you should always speak to your employer right away to let him, or her know about the pain you are feeling from performing a certain movement over and over again and see if you can come up with a solution to prevent your injury from happening again.

Repetitive motion injuries can be severe, and sometimes require surgery to correct. By being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a repetitive motion injury, you can save yourself from the ordeal of an operation, and help your body heal before the pain becomes worse. If you’ve sustained a repetitive motion injury on the job in or around New York City, Accident Help Zone is here for you!  Use our free worker’s comp guide to see if you may be eligible for coverage through your employer’s worker’s compensation policy. The time to start feeling better is now!