You might be one of many California workers who typically perform the same types of tasks, day in and day out, in the workplace. Perhaps, you drive a commercial vehicle to make package deliveries or work on an assembly line in a factory. Then again, maybe you’re an office employee who spends hours on end sitting at a desk, typing, answering phone calls or doing other clerical work.
Some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others. A worker who is navigating California traffic every day is likely more at risk for immediate injury than someone whose duties take place in an office setting. Don’t assume, however, that just because your job is not one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation that you will never suffer injury in the workplace. In fact, many workers who perform repeated tasks on the job wind up having health problems due to repetitive stress injuries.
Repetitive stress injuries develop over time
When you do work that puts stress on your muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves, you’re at risk for developing an RSI. Maybe you’ve been with your current employer for several months or a couple years or more now. You notice that you are having a significant amount of discomfort in a joint or other body part but aren’t sure what’s causing it.
The pain of an RSI may come and go, flaring up at certain times and lessening at other times. Maybe you’ve taken to swallowing an ibuprofen or other medication to help alleviate pain. Repetitive stress injuries tend to worsen the longer you keep repeatedly performing the task that is the underlying cause of the injury.
There are two types of RSI
If you’re experiencing swelling or inflammation at a particular site on your body, you might have a musculoskeletal disorder. This type of RSI typically affects tendons and muscles.
If you have nerve damage, you might have what medical professionals refer to as a non-specific pain syndrome. This type of RSI often includes an overall feeling of pain and discomfort without additional, specific symptoms such as inflammation of a particular body part.
Repeated exertion and motion cause RSI
Maybe you’re a construction worker who often has to use a jackhammer on the job. The near-constant vibration and jarring that occurs from using this type of equipment is the kind of repeated exertion that often results in an RSI. Carrying a heavy load or performing other forceful activities again and again also places you at risk for this type of injury.
What if you sit at a desk all day? It doesn’t sound dangerous, right? However, if you exhibit poor posture or are forced to work in a non-ergonomically designed work space for prolonged periods of time, you might wind up having a lot of pain and discomfort. Especially if you type on a laptop all day, you might notice severe discomfort in your thumb or wrist areas.
Have you discussed your pain with an orthopedic specialist?
It’s never a good idea to assume that your pain and discomfort is unrelated to your job. It’s always best to seek medical attention, perhaps from an orthopedic specialist, who can ask the right questions and perform a physical examination that either rules out or confirms an RSI diagnosis.
Repetitive stress injuries can cause partial or full permanent disability. This is one of many reasons it’s also a good idea to discuss your condition with someone who is well-versed in workers’ compensation law. Navigating the workers’ comp system can be complicated and stressful. It pays to reach out for additional support to help overcome any obstacles that may arise in the processing of your claim.