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Workers Compensation: What is Repetitive Stress Injury?

Friday, Dec. 13th 2019

Oftentimes we associate a workplace injury with a single, catastrophic event such as an explosion or fall from a height.  However, most workplace injuries develop slowly, over time from the cumulative effect of repetitive movements or postures on the job, such as keyboarding, hammering nails or holding a jackhammer. 

The good news is employees experiencing RSI (repetitive stress injuries) may get Workers’ Compensation benefits provided they can prove their work duties were to blame for the injury.

Common Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive Stress Injuries are also known as overuse, repetitive strain, repetitive motion and cumulative trauma injuries.  Whatever the name, the most common RSI’s are:   

·         carpal tunnel syndrome  

·         bursitis

·         tendonitis

·         trigger finger

·         rotator cuff syndrome

·         epicondylitis (aka tennis elbow)

·         lower back pain

An RSI may involve any or all, of the following symptoms in the affected body part: pain, from tenderness and dull aches to throbbing or acute pains, tingling, numbness, loss of strength or coordination reduced range of motion or flexibility

In the early stages, you may not notice any symptoms.  Or you may experience the symptoms only when you’re doing a certain motion or holding a certain posture. Without treatment, you may eventually experience the pain, weakness, and other symptoms all the time—even after rest—leaving you unable to do your job and possibly affecting your quality of life.

Who is at Risk for a Repetitive Stress Injury?

Most people associate RSIs with working at a computer. But RSIs can develop from a wide range of other job tasks that require repeated micro-movements, frequent lifting and carrying, using vibrating equipment, or holding awkward postures. Some occupations at risk of RSI’s are: data entry, clerical call centers, customer service laborers, construction nurses and health care aides, janitors and housekeeping cleaners, grocery and stock clerks, bus drivers, delivery workers, plumbers and pipe fitters, agricultural and meat processing workers, fire fighters, musicians, and professional athletes.

When You Suspect a Work-Related RSI

It’s important to pay attention to the warning signs of an RSI. If you think your symptoms are related to your job, notify your employer immediately.

You should also see a doctor as soon as possible, but you’ll have to follow the rules in your state’s Workers’ Compensation system. Be sure to tell the doctor what you were doing when you experienced symptoms, as well as the time of day. The treating physician might say that you need to stop working for a while or work shorter hours to allow your RSI to get better. The doctor may also prescribe work restrictions, such as frequent breaks, time limits on how long you should do certain tasks, or ergonomic adjustments to your work station or equipment.

Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim for an RSI

RSIs are generally covered under workers’ compensation, but a few states set special limits on cumulative injuries or require employees to meet higher standards for proving their RSIs were caused by work duties rather than other activities in their life.

Getting Help

Worker’s Compensation guidelines and laws vary greatly by state.  And, it’s not uncommon for an employer and it’s insurance company to deny injury claims or attempt to settle claims for a greatly reduced pay-out.  The best course of action is to retain a personal injury attorney well-versed in your state’s Workers’ Compensation laws.  They will be able to navigate the claim and, oftentimes, your compensation result will be higher than if you had tried to negotiate the claim yourself.


If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, Northland Injury Law can help ensure you get full and fair compensation under the law. The attorneys at Northland Injury Law are experienced in navigating the ins and out of the workers’ compensation process and their experience can help you with a complicated claim. For a more comprehensive list of all the questions you might have about workers’ compensation, and for a free consultation, please call (816)-400-4878. If you have further questions about your case, do not hesitate to reach out to us by the phone number, through the contact form, or even with the live chat option listed on our site!

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