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Gradual Pain and Loss of Mobility Are Work Related

There are certain injuries that develop over time and can be debilitating. At first, it’s a pain here and there while you are performing your job duties – you’re not thinking that it will become a chronic injury that could affect your job performance or even returning to your job after treatment. These injuries are called repetitive trauma. What does this mean? They are injuries caused by repetitive movements and “abnormal posture static position.” It’s also an injury that has aggravated a previous condition. They are also called repetitive stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries and regional musculoskeletal disorders.

For athletes, these injuries are par for the course because they happen within a certain time frame (e.g. over a season) due to physical exertion and repetitive movements – such as bending, throwing, catching, etc. These injuries include rotator cuff, bursitis and tendonitis. Yet, these same injuries happen to workers in a variety of industries. They happen to the upper extremities and with overhead activities. However, they are difficult to prove since the date of the initial trauma is hard to pinpoint.

 

Determining the Date of Trauma

According to FindLaw, the distinction between the date of the injury and the date of the discovery (when it “manifested itself”) was defined in the Belwood Nursing Home v. Industrial Commission 115, Ill.2nd 524 (1987). Due to the time frame of filing a claim, the claimant must prove that the injury was work related. Like carpal tunnel, the injury must be proven to be caused by one or more job duties. When filing a workers’ compensation claim, the date of the diagnosis is used to determine the filing eligibility. It is very important to notify your employer when a pain in an extremity (e.g. shoulder) has become an issue. You should consult a workers’ compensation attorney as well.

Repetitive Trauma Injuries

As mentioned, these injuries develop over time and their severity is determined from when treatment was sought. They include:

  1. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (Cubital Tunnel): It is similar to carpal tunnel in that pressure is put on a nerve causing pain, numbness and weakness of grip. With cubital tunnel, pressure is put on the ulnar nerve (next to the ulna bone), which runs from the elbow to the wrist. It controls the grip strength of the ring and pinky fingers. The cubital tunnel is the bony tunnel at the elbow.  This injury is found in occupations that require repetitive flexing and bending of the elbows, such as a delivery person loading up his truck and delivering packages.
  2. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: When pressure is applied to blood vessels and nerves in the thoracic outlet (space between collarbone and first rib). It causes pain in the shoulders and neck along with numbness in fingers. This injury is associated with repetitive overhead tasks, such as an airline attendant putting luggage in overhead compartments.
  3. Tendonitis: The inflammation or irritation of a tendon. It causes pain and tenderness inside the joint, around the shoulders, wrists and heels. This is common with warehouse or assembly line workers. It is also common in athletes, so it may difficult to prove it is a work injury. Without proper treatment, tendonitis can lead to a rupture of a tendon, which requires surgery to repair it.

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