A repetitive stress injury (RSI), also known as a repetitive motion injury or cumulative trauma, often develops when a person makes the same motion over and over while performing work tasks. This repetition can strain the muscles, tendons, and nerves, leading to chronic pain and other problems.
An RSI is different from other workplace injury claims, which often relate to one-off accidents or other isolated incidents. A worker who has an RSI can have an equally difficult time, however, in returning to work and performing a job to the best of their ability.
Can I Claim Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Strain Injury?
The Kentucky workers’ compensation system certainly can cover an RSI claim, but it is not always easy to get your employer and its insurance company to approve it.
An employee who believes they have an RSI should file a claim as soon as possible. A strict statute of limitations applies to workers’ compensation claims starting from the date that a person knew or should have known about an RSI condition and that it was work-related.
In addition to taking prompt action on the initial claim, compelling medical evidence that documents an RSI is also required. You will want to obtain guidance from an experienced workers’ comp attorney who knows the kinds of medical and other evidence, plus the legal procedures required, that could be decisive in your case.
Contact the Kentucky workers’ compensation lawyers at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer today for a free review of your situation and advice about your best legal options. We have the Kentucky Courage required to fight for workers who have suffered repetitive strain injuries.
What Is Considered Repetitive Work?
Kentucky residents work in many different industries. Although jobs are unique with different demands, the common denominator in a repetitive strain injury claim is cumulative damage from doing the same motion over and over.
Not every activity necessarily creates immediate physical strain. Many workers perform their job functions without any second thought and may not consider the possible consequences. A few examples of repeated workplace activities include:
- Data entry
- Heavy lifting, reaching, or bending over
- Cleaning activities
- Product assembly or packing
People who suffer from the gradual buildup of an RSI may initially have had no idea that they could be susceptible to this type of injury. RSI injuries are more common in situations that involve repeated motions as well as movement that requires excessive force or activities performed while in an awkward position.
What Are Examples of Repetitive Stress Injuries?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is perhaps the most common example of an RSI. This chronic condition causes tingling or other symptoms in the arm or hand from a compressed nerve in the narrow passageway located on the palm side of the wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects more women than men. It is most common among workers engaged in repeated wrist movements, including computer workers using a mouse and keyboard.
Other common RSIs include:
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS)
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Lower-back strain
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Raynaud’s disease
- DeQuervain’s syndrome (Blackberry thumb)
- Repetitive shoulder strain
- Trigger finger
- Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Hearing loss
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome
- Dystonia (writer’s cramp)
- Nerve entrapment disorders
- Impingement syndrome
- Radial tunnel syndrome
A repetitive motion injury is often difficult to prove to the satisfaction of an insurance company and workers’ comp regulators. A workers’ compensation claim based on an RSI is likely to face a much greater degree of scrutiny. That’s why you need an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to assist with a benefits eligibility assessment or filing a claim.
What Are the Symptoms of an RSI?
Pain in the affected area, such as the hand, wrist, or neck, is the most common symptom of an RSI. Numbness, tingling, or tremors could also develop in some cases.
Weakness in the hands or arms that can make it difficult for anyone to perform even mundane tasks. Another symptom of an RSI includes fatigue, which prevents employees having the strength needed to return to work with the residual negative impact on their household income.
How Do You Treat Repetitive Stress Injury?
Treatment protocols could include medications such as anti-inflammatory or antidepressant drugs. Steroid injections could also be prescribed to reduce inflammation in affected areas.
Some claimants could benefit from physiotherapy to help muscles recover and improve posture. Surgery could also be required in some cases when specific issues with tendons or nerves that don’t resolve with other treatments.
How Long Does It Take for Repetitive Strain Injury to Heal?
Recovery from an RSI can be a lengthy process that may last several years. When an RSI is accurately diagnosed followed by a quickly instituted treatment program, some workers may be able to recover in a matter of weeks depending upon the circumstances and the scope of the injury.
In most cases, recovery depends on a prompt diagnosis and a reduction in whatever repetitive motions caused or contributed to the injury. There are remedial measures that can reduce the likelihood of an RSI to begin with.
As a practical matter, workers should try to reduce the force they use when asked to perform certain repetitive tasks or try to perform them in a safer manner. Frequent breaks are also important.
It’s advisable sit up straight if you are in a chair most of the day. Otherwise, make sure that your workstation has plenty of space to stand up, stretch, and move around.
For any kind of job in which an RSI could develop, be sure to request an accommodation to reduce the obvious stress on your body. Your employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment, and they should make a reasonable effort to help prevent RSIs from occurring or worsening.
Talk to a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Now
Our Kentucky Courage gets results. Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer have successfully recovered $157 million in workers’ compensation benefits for our clients. We want to put our experience to work for you.
We understand how challenging it can be to get workers’ compensation benefits for an RSI. We can help you submit a thorough application that includes the medical evidence needed to get your benefits approved.
Our dedicated Kentucky workers’ comp lawyers can provide a thorough evaluation of your case when call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.