When a motion is repeated time and time again for weeks, months, or years, a repetitive stress injury (RSI) can develop. RSIs were medically recognized about 300 years ago when scriveners suffered from hand and arm fatigue due to continuous writing. That fatigue eventually resulted in pain and loss of strength in the writing hand. People still get writer’s cramps, but the the keyboard and screen have largely replaced the inkwell, pen, and paper. Once that RSI manifests itself, a worker might experience considerable pain with loss of strength and range of motion.
Common RSI Sites
Many other jobs involved in manufacturing or construction might give rise to RSIs too. Even bartenders develop RSIs from continually using their wrists to open bottles or pour drinks. A typical RSI often involves computer and keyboard use and injuries to the fingers, wrists and arms. The condition is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s caused by swelling of wrist tissue.
- That tissue compresses nerves, and the compressed nerves cause pain.
- Injuries to bursas (fluid-filled sacs) that lubricate joints, and tendons that connect muscles with bones are also common locations of RSIs.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified more than 100 jobs that have been connected with RSIs. Workers can gradually develop an RSI and not really know it until they begin to feel symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Numbing and tingling
- Pain and tenderness when touched
- A burning feeling
- Cramps in the affected area
- Loss of range of motion and loss of coordination
RSI symptoms might resolve with adequate rest, but their intensity is likely to increase over time and affect an individual even when he or she is not working.
RSIs and Workers’ Compensation
The general rule is that a documented RSI is a compensable injury under the workers’ compensation laws of every state, so long as it was suffered in the course and scope of the injured person’s employment.
- If an RSI arises, an employee should immediately inform their employer of their injury.
- The worker might also want to consider consulting a workers’ compensation lawyer.
- The injured employee should be seen by a physician in order to document the injury and to seek treatment.
RSIs and Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If an RSI is medically documented, the injured employee might be eligible for certain workers’ compensation benefits. Those could consist of:
- Medical benefits for treating the RSI such as diagnostics, therapy, surgery and physical rehabilitation.
- Temporary partial or total disability if the RSI requires the worker to transfer to a lower paying job while recovering from the injury, or the worker can’t work at all during a temporary recovery period.
- Permanent partial disability for any permanent partial loss of a part of the body as the result of an RSI.
Proving the existence of RSIs can be difficult. Some doctors might only treat them as minor strains. Other doctors don’t even believe that an injury can result from repetitive stress. The majority of workers with RSIs retain attorneys to represent them in their workers’ compensation claims. Research reveals that when attorneys are retained in RSI cases, awards to the injured workers are significantly higher. Whether it’s an RSI or any other type of injury that was suffered at work, injured workers can contact repetitive trauma work compensation attorneys Palm Beach County trust to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. They may not collect legal fees unless we obtain a settlement or award on a claim.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt for their insight into workers compensation cases.