You may have been working on an assembly line for years without any sort of physical issue, but lately, you are experiencing considerable discomfort in your left elbow and shoulder. You repeat the same motions every day in your job, and you may have developed repetitive stress injuries.
What it means
Repetitive stress primarily affects soft tissues, such as nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is caused by repeating the same motions in the type of work you do or in the way you go about your daily activities. For example, office workers who spend a lot of time on computers may develop wrist injuries from using a mouse repeatedly. As an assembly worker, you may handle products using the same arm and hand motions day after day, which could result in bursitis or tendinitis.
Where and why it occurs
In addition to your elbow and shoulder, repetitive stress can affect hands, fingers, thumbs and wrists. Depending on the motion or activity, this kind of injury can extend to the neck, back, hips, knees and even feet. Workers can experience repetitive stress injuries due to muscle fatigue, overexertion, incorrect posture or awkward motions that are performed repeatedly.
An injury by any other name
You may think that to file a claim for workers’ compensation, a specific incident needs to be involved. However, you are also covered for a condition that develops over time. Asthma is one example of this, and repetitive stress injury is another. In the state of Minnesota, repetitive stress is also known as a Gillette-type injury.
Seeking medical help
You will need a diagnosis from a physician who can then prepare a report linking the elbow and shoulder injuries to your assembly line job. Repetitive stress injuries are common, and they represent a large percentage of the workers’ compensation claims filed. The good news is that once you receive proper treatment for your injuries, you will likely recover completely.