It is common for people in Massachusetts and elsewhere to associate workers’ compensation injuries with single, traumatic events. For example, it may seem obvious that workers’ compensation is owed if a construction worker falls off the roof of a house on which he is working because the employer failed to provide any safety systems. On the other hand, repetitive strain injuries are less clear-cut.
Repetitive motions can place serious strain on the neck, as well as the muscles, nerves and tendons in hands and shoulders. Often, it’s office workers who get repetitive strain injuries from typing or performing other similar repetitive actions. Sometimes this type of injury is so severe, a worker can no longer perform his or her job duties as a result of the injury. Other times, rehabilitation is possible. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has some sound advice on how to avoid repetitive stress injuries in the workplace.
Some common risk factors for an increased likelihood of developing a stress injury are poor posture, heavy lifting, and repetitive motion. Other times, a change in work conditions increases the likelihood of stress injuries. These are changes including such things as speeding up the line in a factory. When factory production is sped up, workers may be required to perform a limited number of tasks, but perform them faster than ever while being watched by employers via video or electronic surveillance. This can cause a repetitive stress injury.
Similarly, being forced to type at high speeds at jobs such as data entry positions can lead to repetitive stress injuries like “carpal tunnel syndrome.” The carpal tunnel is a small space in your wrist. The narrow motion involved in fast typing is highly stressful to that space in the wrist, just as knitting and sanding are.
Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when there is pressure on your wrist’s median nerve. Swelling or another bodily reaction to repetitive motion causes the carpal tunnel to become even smaller. You may become aware of it when you experience pain or tingling or other problems in your hand or wrist. Often these symptoms occur at night or in the evening.
If you have a job that requires fast typing or other repetitive activities, it is critical to learn about proper body mechanics and take frequent rest breaks from the repetition. Sometimes simply stretching and alternating the repetitive activity with other types of activities can make a difference as to whether you develop carpal tunnel syndrome or experience a recurrence of an already existing carpal tunnel syndrome condition. You may also want to arrange your workspace to be more ergonomic in order to avoid injury.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be addressed by health care professionals. A doctor may be able to suggest tests or scans to see if the carpal tunnel area of your wrist is working properly. He or she can also give you written information to give your employer about any changes in your work habits that would help you.
If you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel and need to see a doctor or make modifications to your work, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can advise you on whether you should file a claim. Ask the experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates for advice and help in filing a claim. Call us at 617-367-0880 or contact us via our online form.
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Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation and Pre-Existing Conditions, March 20, 2013
After a Workplace Injury, Is Someone Watching You? March 14, 2013