A dental hygienist has been working at her job in Burbank, Calif., for more than 20 years. The dentists in her office adore her and her family, but over the last few months, though, her job has become difficult. Her wrists have started to hurt. She doesn’t know it, but she is the victim of repetitive stress injuries, a class of injuries that may entitle her to workers’ compensation.
Repetitive stress injuries are suffered as a result of movements or postures that, when repeated over time, can cause damage to bones, tissue and joints. They are often not evident because they do not occur as the result of a one catastrophic accident. Rather, they hide behind chronic pain that worsens over time and makes performing job functions difficult. In fact, you may not even know you have one.
That’s why it is important to contact Conexión Legal, where you can receive free legal advice on your potential workers’ compensation claim in the greater Los Angeles area. By messaging Conexión Legal through WhatsApp, or by calling us at 1800 201 1220, you can schedule your free consultation, and connect with an expert California workers’ compensation attorney in our network. They will know whether or not you may be entitled to damages from repetitive stress injuries, including the following five.
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Repetitive motion injuries affect muscles, joints and nerves
Repetitive motion injuries often affect the neck, shoulders, knees, hands and wrists through cumulative trauma. Many factors can contribute to these kinds of work injuries, including — but not limited to — non-ergonomic office chairs, typing, repeated or prolonged bending or flexing, awkward postures, static postures, contact stress or cold temperatures.
While a pinched nerve may occur as the result of a single traumatic event, many professions include postures and positions that, over time, can cause muscles and tendons around nerves to become inflamed, compressing the nerves and causing a variety of symptoms.
Pinched nerves are one of the most common back injuries, and can affect any part of the body, and can also reduce flexibility and range of motion. If left untreated, pinched nerves can atrophy, causing a permanent loss of sensation and/or function. Pinched nerves can also cause a burning sensation when touched or stretched. Pay attention to any pain, numbness, tingling, tenderness and aches that do not go away, seek medical attention and notify your employer as soon as possible.
While many athletes suffer from tendonitis — the inflammation of the connective tissue that joins muscle to bone — tendonitis is a common repetitive stress injury in professions ranging from executive assistants to landscapers.
Tendonitis causes pain during limb movement, tenderness in the affected area and swelling. The injury occurs frequently in people whose jobs require the adoption of uncomfortable positions, exposure to frequent vibrations (for instance, a construction worker operating a jackhammer), over-extension of extremities and repeated movements.
Tendonitis may take weeks or even months of rest to heal, meaning workers could need time off to recover. If a doctor diagnoses you with work-related tendonitis or any other work-related repetitive stress injury, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to recover lost wages and medical expenses.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs — bursae — that provide cushioning to bones, tendons and muscles around the joints. It can be very painful, and even debilitating, limiting range of motion, and it becomes more common as we age. That inflammation can cause pain, stiffness in the joints, swelling and redness, affecting job performance and quality of life.
Though baseball players often experience bursitis in their shoulders and elbows due to an unnatural throwing motion, bursitis is common in everyday workers who are required to put excessive pressure their knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, heels or toes. Though it can occur due to a sudden trauma, bursitis is most often due to such mundane actions as leaning on your elbows for long periods, lifting something over your head repeatedly or excessive kneeling to perform tasks such as laying carpet or scrubbing floors. Using kneeling pads and wheeling heavy loads with a dolly or cart can help mitigate the risk.
Commonly called “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow,” epicondylitis is a condition in which the tendons that connect the elbow to the muscles in the forearm are damaged from overuse. Caused by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm, it affects plumbers, painters, carpenters, construction workers (motions such as turning a screwdriver), office workers (repetitive computer mouse use) and butchers, as well as athletes. The pain occurs primarily where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the outside of the elbow, but it can also spread into the forearm and wrist. If the symptoms become debilitating, a doctor may recommend surgery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
This condition affects workers who use repeated wrist and hand movements, like dental hygienists, secretaries, painters, plumbers, carpenters and gardeners. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand, surrounded by bones and ligaments. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the nerve that runs through that passageway — the median nerve — is compressed, causing numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.
Working with vibrating tools or on an assembly line, working with a computer mouse, or performing any job that requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist can create harmful pressure on the nerve, or worsen existing damage, especially in a cold environment.
All of these conditions must be diagnosed through a thorough physical examination by a medical professional, with consideration given to the tasks performed by the patient. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, call Conexion Legal at 1800 201 1220 or contact us via WhatsApp for free advice on workers’ compensation cases.
We can also connect you with experienced California workers’ compensation attorneys who can help you recover the benefits you deserve, which may include medical expenses and paid sick days. Remember: In California, you can obtain workers’ compensation regardless of your immigration status.