Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries

Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress (or repetitive strain) injuries differ from many other workplace injuries in that there is no clear moment of injury—no fall, cut, collision with an object or machinery that causes obvious and immediate harm. For that reason, although repetitive stress injuries make up a significant percentage of workers’ compensation claims in Ohio and around the country, these cases are often hotly contested.

A study conducted by Martindale-Nolo in 2015 revealed that nearly half of the study participants who ultimately received workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive stress injuries were initially denied. And, repetitive stress claims, on average, took longer to resolve than the norm.

While it is always wise to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as early in the process as possible, it is especially important when the injury involves repetitive stress or some other condition that may be difficult to tie to work.

Who is at Risk for Repetitive Stress Injuries?

One of the most commonly recognized types of repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a major nerve to the hand is compressed where it travels through the wrist. The condition may cause pain, burning, tingling, and numbness in the hand and arm, and generally worsens over time. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Most people associate carpal tunnel syndrome with tasks such as repetitive computer use. However, workers across many industries and job roles are at risk for,  carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.

Professions at Greatest Risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with tasks that:

  • Require repetitive hand motions
  • Involve sustaining or repeating awkward hand positions
  • Require strong gripping
  • Put mechanical stress on the palm
  • Expose the area to sustained or repetitive vibration

These tasks arise in a wide range of professions, including:

  • Many manufacturing and production positions
  • Hairdressing
  • Running a cash register
  • Baking
  • Painting
  • Gardening and agriculture

Other Repetitive Stress Injuries

Other common work-related repetitive stress conditions include:

  • Spinal problems, such as herniated discs
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis

Some repetitive stress injuries are commonly known by other names. For example, “tennis elbow” and “trigger finger” are both forms of tendonitis.

Recognizing and Treating Repetitive Stress Injuries

Most repetitive stress injuries worsen over time, particularly when the stress that caused the condition continues. In addition to prolonging pain and other symptoms, leaving a repetitive stress injury untreated can result in complications or long-term effects. Unfortunately, because the pain and other symptoms don’t come on suddenly and may be intermittent, many people ignore them initially, continuing to aggravate the condition over time.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain, tingling, and numbness without explanation, it is in your best interest to seek medical assessment as soon as possible—especially if you are in a high-risk job performing repetitive motions or experiencing frequent exposure to other risk factors.

Pursuing a Repetitive Stress Injury Claim in Ohio

If you sustained a repetitive stress injury on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But, you should be aware that workers’ compensation insurance carriers often attempt to avoid payment of benefits for repetitive stress-induced conditions. For example, they may argue that the condition was caused by other activities outside the workplace.

Working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney from the outset will provide the best opportunity for your lawyer to seek outside medical opinions, gather and review your medical records, assess other alleged causes of the condition, and build the strongest possible case on your behalf.


The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
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