Many people who use a computer on a daily basis have experienced bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a repetitive stress injury involving the wrist. This is just one of several conditions that come under the heading of repetitive motion disorders. Many parts of the body can be affected.
Concerned employers can provide special equipment or ergonomic programs to help workers avoid issues, as repetitive stress injuries could result in lost time at work and workers’ compensation claims. Temporary disability is a very real possibility. If not treated properly, the worst-case scenario is permanent disability.
Understanding repetitive stress injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are a group of physical conditions that often affect the soft tissues. They have various causes, primarily uninterrupted repetitions of an activity, overexertion, awkward motions, muscle fatigue or even incorrect posture. While they occur mostly in the wrists, hands, fingers and shoulders, they can also affect the neck or back, hips, knees or feet. In addition to those who use computers, repetitive tasks are common for assembly line workers, meatpackers, carpenters, gardeners and musicians.
For mild cases, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may help, but people who experience severe or chronic repetitive stress injury symptoms are encouraged to see a doctor. A physician may recommend a splint to relieve pressure, or physical therapy. A doctor will also be able to make an assessment about a soft tissue injury, which is not always visible but which could become disabling. Without proper treatment, permanent injury could result, such as loss of feeling, diminished strength or complete loss of function in the affected area. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pain or restore motor function. However, surgery carries its own risks of permanent nerve damage.
If you suffer from a repetitive stress injury, you may want to seek legal counsel, as you may be eligible for compensation. Two types of temporary disability benefits are available in Maryland under workers’ compensation: Temporary Total Disability and Temporary Partial Disability, both of which cover lost wages. For the most severe cases, Permanent Total Disability and Permanent Partial Disability benefits are also available. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options, see that your rights are protected and work to secure full and fair compensation on your behalf.