Workers' Compensation: Repetitive Stress Injuries

"Repetitive stress injuries" result from overuse of a tendon unit, causing inflammation, followed by pain and swelling. These injuries can become debilitating. They include "computeritis" or "carpal tunnel syndrome" (a hand syndrome), and "tennis elbow" (effects the outer part of the elbow).

Computeritis or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Computeritis is a hand syndrome which is caused by repetitive motions of the hands, fingers or wrist, such as those that occur with typing. The tendons, nerves and arteries, which run through the structure formed by bone and ligaments near the wrist (the "carpal tunnel"), become irritated and inflamed, and pain develops. Without treatment or a change in conditions, computeritis usually worsens and becomes chronic.

Computeritis is more commonly known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Its symptoms include numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, and ring fingers. Computer and office workers are not the only ones who may develop the syndrome. Workers in jobs involving cutting, small parts assembly, finishing, sewing, and cleaning are also at risk (NIOSH Facts). Occupational groups associated with carpal tunnel problems include grocery checkers, musicians, carpenters, dental hygienists, electronic assembly workers, and those who use chain saws, riveting hammers, percussion drilling machines, and oscillating sanders.

Tennis Elbow--Not Just For Tennis Players

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender, usually as a result of strain or overuse. Although called tennis elbow, lateral epicondylitis is often seen in plasterers, mechanics, or painters who overuse their arms (MedInfo).

Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries

A person who has been diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury may be entitled to seek compensation. For example, word processors have won lawsuits based on defective computer key board designs that placed undue stress on computer users. The redesign of key boards to make them more ergonomic has been one beneficial result of such cases.

Whether an individual suffering from repetitive stress injury may receive compensation depends upon the nature of the injury and the circumstances giving rise to it. If you are interested in exploring your legal rights, please contact us.

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