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Repetitive Motion

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:

  • Assembly line workers
  • Meatpackers
  • Musicians
  • Sewing and textile workers
  • Carpenters
  • Computer work

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.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

The injuries arising from repetitive motion are known as repetitive stress injuries and include conditions such as:

  • Bursitis – inflammation of the bursa or fluid filled sac that lies between a tendon and a bone or tendon and skin
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome – when the tunnel of bones in the wrist narrows, pinching the nerves that run through it
  • Epicondylitis – tennis elbow or pain in the outside the area of the arm above the elbow
  • Ganglion cyst – when the tissues surrounding a joint, usually the wrist, become inflamed and swell with fluid
  • Tendinitis – inflammation of the tendons
  • Tenosynovitis – inflammation of the lining of the sheath around a tendon
  • Trigger finger – clicking, snapping, or locking of a finger, which can be painless or painful

Warning Signs

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.

Treatment

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 cortisteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may also be used.

A severe repetitive stress injury could require surgery to prevent permanent damage.

Prevention

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:

  • Following the OSHA voluntary guidelines for ergonomics in the workplace including upgrades of equipment and modifying the workplace layout.
  • Training workers in proper work techniques to avoid repetitive motion disorders.
  • Allowing breaks so that workers can stretch and rest the muscles being used
  • Rotating workers through tasks that require repetitive motion

Action

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.

Philadelphia Work Accident Lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP Advocate for Injured Workers

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.