A person does not have to have an accident or suffer some trauma in order to sustain an injury. There is a large group of medical conditions, known as repetitive injuries, which are the result of the wear and tear on the body caused by repetitive motion or activity. Common symptoms of these injuries include pain, weakness, stiffness and numbness.
Repetitive injuries, also referred to as musculoskeletal disorders, can be caused by any number of activities. While they are regularly seen in athletes and musicians, repetitive injuries are also common in the workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that these disorders made up 34 percent of all work-related injury and illness cases in 2012.
Types of repetitive injuries
There are more than 100 medical conditions that are classified as repetitive injuries. Some of the most common types of musculoskeletal disorders include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff syndrome
Most injuries that are the result of too much stress or strain being placed on the body are classified as repetitive injuries. These conditions are frequent, but not limited to, the joints in the arms and legs.
Who is at risk for work-related repetitive injuries?
Employees in a range of occupations run the risk of developing repetitive injuries. Work that requires repetitious tasks, force, unusual positions or heavy lifting can often result in a higher number of workers developing musculoskeletal disorders. This could include office, or other work, that requires employees to spend a significant amount of time using computers or keyboards, as well as work using a barcode or other type of scanner and work that requires employees to stay in a fixed position for an extended period of time.
A construction worker, for example, could develop tendinitis in his or her elbow as a result of prolonged use of a jackhammer or saw. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in office workers, such as data entry clerks, because they regularly type and key in information. Workers that stock shelves could develop rotator cuff syndrome as a result of all of the lifting and other overhead work they may be required to do.
Workers’ compensation of repetitive injuries
Like other workplace injuries and illnesses, repetitive injuries may also be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage in Illinois and elsewhere. Benefits that could be provided include medical coverage for treatment of the ailment and disability compensation for time an employee misses from work. In order to be covered, however, a qualified physician must determine that the injury resulted from work-related activity. Although there is not a specific date of an accident to attribute the injury to, there are still time limits on receiving coverage for repetitive injuries. Generally, the date of diagnosis is used in place of an accident date for the purposes of the statutes of limitations.
It can be difficult in some cases for employees to get the benefits they are entitled to for a work-related repetitive injury. Working with an attorney can help workers to understand their options and ensure their rights are protected.