Repetitive stress injuries develop slowly over time. Although you may not realize it, you may contribute a small amount to this cumulative injury every day that you work. Performing the same tasks day after day can place an inordinate amount of strain on your muscles and connective tissues.
It is possible for someone to develop a repetitive stress or motion injury in any part of their body that they frequently use for repetitive tasks, including lifting, twisting, gripping and maneuvering. Even typing at a computer for long amounts of time can result in serious, even permanent injury.
Some people mistakenly believe that if they already suffered from a minor repetitive stress injury from a previous job that they don’t have the right to take action when they wind up hurt again at a new job. Just because your repetitive motion injury was a pre-existing condition does not preclude you from seeking the protection of workers’ compensation insurance for your injury.
Do you have records showing your condition when you started the job?
If you have previously received a diagnosis with a repetitive stress injury, or have undergone treatment either through your personal physician or a workers’ compensation claim to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with a repetitive motion injury, you still have rights as a worker.
First of all, your employer should accommodate your injury by allowing you to take breaks, use ergonomic devices that limit the ongoing damage or change your work responsibilities to something that does not aggravate your existing injury.
If your records show that the condition was at one point under control and has now flared up and made working impossible, those medical records could help you file a new workers’ compensation claim. So long as the condition has gotten worse or returned because of the work you do for your employer, you have the theoretical rights to request appropriate workers’ compensation benefits to help you treat the injury and remain at work.
Do you need to consider a new career path?
It can be hard to accept that an injury will shape your future, but repetitive stress injuries, while simple enough to treat, are very difficult to fully correct or permanently heal if you keep doing the same tasks. So long as you continue to perform the same kinds of work that you did at the time that you initially suffered the injury, chances are good that you will continue to re-injure yourself, potentially worsening your repetitive motion injury each time it flares up.
Workers’ compensation can protect you by offering medical benefits that cover your care and disability benefits that cover a portion of your lost wages. You may also have the option of undergoing job training that will help you secure a different career with comparable income levels when you can no longer continue to do the same work after an injury.