Like many Connecticut workers, you may think of a workplace injury as a one-time event, as when an employee suffers a broken bone or sprained ankle after a fall.
However, some workplace injuries are the result of minor, repetitive movements that build up over time. These are called repetitive stress injuries, or repetitive strain injuries, and can result in serious problems if they are not properly addressed and treated.
Workplace injuries are often associated with physically demanding jobs, but repetitive stress injuries can occur in a wide variety of jobs, including office jobs that involve sitting and typing.
Causes of repetitive stress injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are caused by repeatedly using a certain body part. Common body parts include hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. You can get a repetitive stress injury through using this part of your body in the same way too much or by having bad posture in a job that involves a lot of sitting or standing in one position.
Some signs that you have a repetitive stress injury include:
The type of pain you feel can be a dull ache, a burning sensation or throbbing in the affected area. The area can feel stiff or weak, especially after working.
Along with tingling, feelings of numbness are a sign that you may have a repetitive stress injury. Swelling of the body part is also a sign of a repetitive stress injury.
Treating a repetitive stress injury
You can try to treat a repetitive stress injury yourself through over the counter pain medications or applying a hot or cold pack to the area for a couple minutes every few hours. Moving or stretching the affected area can also be an effective treatment.
Although you may be in pain, try to keep the affected area active and moving. You may be tempted to rest it, believing that will help it heal, but it could make the area weaker.
Your right to a healthy work environment
Your employer has a legal duty to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment. If you believe you have a repetitive stress injury, talk to your employer about it and ask for changes that can help heal the injury.
Changes can include altering your physical working environment, providing you with better equipment or modifying your job duties so you do not perform the same damaging movements over and over.
If your employer refuses your requests, your injury could result in you missing work. Repetitive stress injuries are legitimate workplace injuries that could qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim
The purpose of workers’ compensation is to cover your wages and costs if you suffer a workplace injury. The benefits can cover the cost of doctor visits, medications, physical therapy and other expenses caused by the injury.
Filing a claim for workers’ compensation involves many steps and requirements. The process can quickly become complicated and overwhelming, which is why there are professionals who can help you file your claim and guide you through the process.