Repetitive motion takes place when the same muscles are used to perform the same motions or tasks repeatedly. Repetitive motion can be very harmful to the musculoskeletal structure of the body and can cause damage over time. Lifting and moving objects repeatedly, scanning items in retail, and using a computer mouse and keyboard are all examples of repetitive motion. Many different occupations require workers to perform repetitive motions including:
Repetitive motion disorders are commonly reported and they often take longer to heal than other injuries. Incorrect posture, overexertion, and friction caused by twisting the wrist or arm can contribute to a repetitive motion disorder. The areas of the body most often affected are the soft tissues of the fingers, thumbs, hands, wrists, elbows, and arms. Repetitive motion can also adversely affect the neck, back, hips, legs, knees, feet, and ankles.
The injuries arising from repetitive motion are known as repetitive stress injuries and include conditions such as:
Warning signs that a worker is developing a repetitive stress injury include tingling sensations or numbness in the affected area, pain which can be dull at first but increase in intensity over time, and muscle fatigue where the affected muscles quickly tire and give out. Repetitive stress injuries can result in reduced flexibility, motion, and strength in the area, which, without treatment, can become permanent.
Healing a repetitive stress injury generally requires a break from the repetitive motion that caused it so the affected area can be rested. A program of physical therapy including stretching and relaxing the muscles may be recommended. Other treatments such as splints, ice or heat applications, and corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may also be used.
A severe repetitive stress injury could require surgery to prevent permanent damage.
Proper ergonomics can go a long way in preventing repetitive stress injuries. Ergonomics refers to the study of design to provide the best comfort and efficiency for the work being done. For example, providing workers with adjustable chairs and wrist supports for keyboards can reduce stress on the muscles in the hands and wrist and help prevent repetitive motion disorders. Other steps employers can take include:
If you have a repetitive motion disorder, you should report it to your employer and seek medical treatment. Delaying treatment could worsen your condition and make it harder to claim Workers’ Compensation benefits. If your repetitive stress injury is work-related your medical care is covered by Workers’ Compensation as are wages lost if you are unable to continue working.
If your injury makes it impossible for you to return to the work you were doing, you may be eligible for retraining to learn a new job. To file a successful Workers’ Compensation claim you will need to prove that your repetitive stress injury is directly related to your job. Seek a qualified Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can help you determine your legal options.
If you have been injured on the job, contact a Philadelphia Work Accident lawyer of Gross & Kenny, LLP. To schedule a free initial consultation, complete our online form, or call 267-589-0090. Our offices are located in Philadelphia and we serve clients from the Greater Philadelphia region, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.