Common Repetitive Injuries Suffered by Workers in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employees injured in the course and scope of their employment receive payment of wage loss benefits for their work-related injuries. Repetitive motion injuries are compensable under the Act, and while they can prove challenging to prove, it is important for injured workers to pursue their legal right to benefits.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry maintains information for all state residents, including a link to the publication of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Department summarizes the act as extending coverage to employees for the entirety of their employment. From the first day on the job, any resulting injuries or diseases caused by employment are covered by workers’ compensation.
Repetitive motion injuries include many different painful conditions and injuries to muscles, tendons, nerves, and soft tissue. Performing repetitive tasks, overusing a body part, and working with tools or vibrating machinery can cause these injuries, as can working in awkward positions throughout the work day.
In terms of repetitive injuries, there are four main types commonly suffered by employees.
Tennis elbow, also known as epicondylitis, is a painful condition caused by overuse. Epicondylitis is an inflammation of tendons that join the outside of the elbow to the forearm muscles. Overuse causes damage to the tendons and forearm muscles, mainly from repeating the same motions. The result is pain on the outside of the elbow, and often the first signs of tennis elbow are pain on the outer part of the elbow and a weakening grip strength.
Typically, symptoms gradually develop, and in most cases the pain begins mildly and slowly worsens over weeks and months. Employees may experience worse symptoms with forearm activity, such as turning a wrench or holding a work tool.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects nearly five million workers throughout the United States. This weakening and numbness in a hand results from pressure on the nerve at the wrist. While symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often begin gradually, they can grow to become quite severe.
Often, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms appear in one or both hands at night, when individuals often sleep with their wrists flexed. In the night, there may be a feeling of needing to “shake out” the hand. Worsening symptoms may cause a tingling sensation during the day. Workers may not be able to form a fist, grasp objects, or perform manual tasks.
Bursitis is a condition that affects the fluid-filled sacs (“bursae”) that cushion bones, muscles, and tendons near joints. When bursae become inflamed, bursitis occurs. Typical locations for bursitis are the shoulder, hip, and elbow. It can also occur near any joint performing repetitive, frequent motion, such as a knee or toe.
Lastly, tendinitis is a common ailment of those workers who perform repetitive motions. Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are thick cords that attach bone to muscle. Where the tendon is attached, the worker may experience pain, swelling, and tenderness.
At Needle Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience helping injured workers in Pennsylvania. We can help you navigate the claims process and guide you in making decisions about your case. We provide a free consultation and can be reached by calling (570) 344-1266 or contacting us online.