Sprains and strains rank high on the list of common workplace injuries. They can be severe and painful from the start, or begin as slight injuries that when left untreated, end up requiring significant medical attention. Many sprain and strain injuries are preventable when employers and workers take care to exercise common sense and good workplace practices.
Sprains and strains are soft tissue injuries that involve damage to the tendons, muscles, or ligaments. Tendons and muscles move bones or structures within the body while ligaments hold structures together and keep them stable. Naturally, any injury of this type can be painful, and impede the movement of the affected area. Although the terms sprain and strain are often used interchangeably, they affect different parts of the body.
A sprain occurs when the ligaments connecting bones become stretched or torn. Conversely, a strain involves the stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon linking muscle to bone.
Sprains and strains are most common in the back, neck, shoulders, knees, ankle, and wrist areas. Symptoms of both types of injuries are similar and can include:
Sprains typically result from a fall, twist, or other blow to the body that forces it out of its normal position. A common example is a sprained ankle. A strain can happen from heavy lifting or repetitive motion over time. Causes of sprains and strains in the workplace include:
Recovery from a sprain or strain depends on the severity of the injury. Pain, stiffness, and loss of motion can last anywhere from a few days for a mild sprain to months for a knee requiring reconstructive surgery. In some cases, rehabilitation therapy is needed to return the affected area to normal mobility.
There are many precautions that employers and employees can take to reduce the risk of workplace sprains and strains. Employers should maintain their equipment and workplace to keep it free of slip and fall hazards. They can provide tools that are ergonomic and training sessions to educate their workers on techniques that reduce strain on the body such as:
Employees should be sure to take care of their personal health to reduce the risk of injury. Excessive smoking or drinking and poor nutrition put the body in a position of weakness and at risk of chronic disease. Getting enough sleep is also very important as workers who are fatigued are more likely to suffer sprains and strains in workplace accidents. Those exhibiting symptoms of a sprain or strain injury should seek medical assistance right away to prevent the injury from worsening.
Like other soft tissue injuries, sprains and strains are more difficult to document than broken bones because usually there is no diagnostic tool like an x-ray picture to show the insurance company. If you have suffered a sprain or strain while on the job, it is crucial that you see a medical professional immediately about your injuries. While you may be inclined to tough it out, waiting to seek medical help will not help convince the insurer that you need to be compensated for what may turn out to be a serious medical problem.
Sprain and strain injuries can leave you with chronic pain and limited mobility. If you have suffered an injury at your workplace you may be eligible for compensation. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP, are committed to helping injured workers obtain the full benefits to which they are entitled. Call us at 267-589-0090 for a free consultation about your case, or contact us online. From our Philadelphia office, we proudly serve workers throughout Pennsylvania.