Can you get workers’ comp for repetitive stress injuries in Indiana?
Certain occupations and professions have a reputation as being especially dangerous—like construction, manufacturing and food-processing. But the fact is that injuries happen in many types of workplaces every day in Indiana and across the country, including in offices and retail businesses. In fact, one of the biggest categories of workplace injuries is repetitive stress (strain) injuries.
What is a repetitive stress injury?
Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs)—also known as repetitive motion injuries or repetitive strain disorder— occur when there is too much stress placed on a joint. In the workplace, RSIs typically happen due to prolonged overuse of the muscles and tendons around a joint or through repeated motions.
Examples of repetitive strain injuries
One of the most well-known examples is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). With this injury, the worker experiences swelling in the wrist, which can be painful. Office workers and business professionals who spend much of their day in front of a computer screen are particularly susceptible to occupational CTS.
Although CTS is the most common example of a workplace RSI, any joint or muscle in the body may be injured as a result of repetitive motions. Workers experiencing this type of injury may experience tingling, numbness or pain. You may find that it’s difficult to perform your typical occupational duties as a result.
Other examples of repetitive stress injuries include:
- Cubital tunnel syndrome. With this condition, the worker experiences swelling in the nerve located behind the elbow. The hand may also be affected.
- De Quervain’s disease. In this condition, the tendon that connects to the thumb becomes inflamed.
- Tendonitis. When the tendons located in the arm, shoulder or knee become overused, the worker may experience pain from tendonitis.
- Bursitis. With this condition, the bursa becomes inflamed. The bursa is a sack that provides cushioning inside a joint, typically the shoulder. However, it may also affect the knee.
- Epicondylitis. This condition is more frequently known as “tennis elbow.” It is most common in employees who perform heavy labor, including construction workers.
- Ganglion. When a cyst forms inside the tissue that is supposed to lubricate the joint inside the wrist, ankle or knee, this is known as a ganglion.
- Myofascial damage. This condition occurs whenever overused muscles are damaged.
- Rotator cuff syndrome. With this condition, inflammation occurs in the muscles and tendons located in the shoulder.
- Cervical radiculopathy. This condition is most well-known as a pinched nerve. It occurs when the disks located in the neck are compressed and can result in pain not only in the neck but also in the back and shoulders.
Repetitive stress injuries are not isolated to particular occupations. Since the causes of RSI include the overuse of muscles or the performance of repetitive motions, you may be susceptible to such an injury if you perform the same types of motions frequently on a daily basis—regardless of your occupation.
Repetitive strain injury treatment
Treatment for an RSI varies depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Common treatment methods for mild RSI include rest, splinting, icing and elevation of the injured area. In mild to moderate cases, doctors may advise the use of anti-inflammatory medication. The use of a wrap or a splint may also assist in helping the worker rest the injured area.
In severe cases where the injured worker is unable to work, occupational therapy may help improve recovery times. In this type of program, the employee may participate in exercises that are intended to help them recover and eventually return to work such as light weightlifting, stretching and hand exercises.
During the early stages of a repetitive stress injury, it may be possible for the injury to heal on its own simply by resting the affected area. However, as time goes on and the worker resumes their activities, more serious damage may occur.
Is an RSI permanent?
Unfortunately, a repetitive stress injury could become permanent without proper treatment. In the event that an RSI is permanent, the affected worker may experience a complete loss of function of the injured area.
Workers’ comp for a repetitive stress Injury
If you were diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury as a result of activities performed at work, you may be eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits for lost wages and medical treatment.
Other possible benefits may include reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a result of your injury, including mileage expenses for travel to treatment, prescription costs and even future coverage for medical needs and lost wages.
Workers’ comp laws in Indiana cover most work-related repetitive stress injuries.
Unfortunately, it’s common for such claims to be denied.
This is often largely because such injuries don’t result in symptoms that are immediately visible. For this reason, it’s important for workers who are suffering from an RSI to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Although treatment, including surgery, may be able to resolve many repetitive stress injuries, that isn’t always the case. In some instances, the worker may never be able to return to their previous occupational activities. This can have a significant impact on their ability to earn a living and provide for their family.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a work-related repetitive motion injury, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney who specializes in these types of cases. At Finderson Law, we can help if your initial workers’ compensation claim was denied.