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Do I Have a Repetitive Strain Injury?

John Lesaganich Dec. 8, 2018

Workplace injuries are not always as blunt as a head injury or other impact wound – sometimes they develop slowly over time. However they occur, they still cause workers pain and interfere with their wellbeing during and outside of work.

One of the most common workplace injuries is a repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is a general term for pain in the muscles, nerves and tendons that is caused by repetitive motions or overuse. Also called a repetitive stress injury or repetitive trauma injury, these injuries most often affect the upper body in the:

  • Forearms and elbows

  • Wrists and hands

  • Neck and shoulders

RSIs are often caused by repetitive activities, high-intensity activities for a long time with no rest, or poor posture or activities that are completed in an awkward position.

What Are RSI’s Symptoms?

Some of the general symptoms of an RSI include, but are not limited to:

  • Tenderness or pain in the muscles or joints

  • Throbbing or pulsating sensations

  • Tingling, particularly in the hand or arm

  • Loss of sensation

  • Loss of strength

  • Cramping

  • Stiffness

How Do RSIs Develop?

There are several activities, equipment and environmental factors that can cause an RSI. They include:

  • Overuse of a muscle or group of muscles

  • Vibrating equipment

  • Working in cold temperatures

  • Stress

  • Poor posture or holding the same posture for prolonged periods

  • Forceful activities

  • A non-ergonomically designed workspace

  • Direct pressure to particular areas

  • Carrying heavy loads

  • Fatigue

There are several job types that put employees at a greater risk for developing RSIs. Working on an assembly line, at a cash register, at a desk, in a manual labor job or while using modern technological devices such as smartphones can cause an RSI.

Are These Injuries Covered?

Repetitive trauma is not covered in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act directly but is included via judicial construction. Workers can film for a workers’ compensation claim with their employer’s workers’ comp insurance provider and with the help of legal representation.

RSIs may not seem like a big deal because they aren’t bloody injuries, but they can have just as traumatic of an impact on a worker’s everyday life. Employees deserve to have these injuries caused by their job covered.