One of the most overlooked forms of injury that a worker can seek workers’ compensation for are injuries due to the overuse of a joint, bone or soft tissue through the course of doing the day-to-day tasks associated with the worker’s job. Many workers do not realize that an overuse injury can be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. But an injury sustained on the job is an injury just the same, and you should be compensated.
Overuse injuries, which are sometimes also referred to as repetitive motion injuries or musculoskeletal disorders, occur when a worker repeatedly performs the same motion over and over again during the course of his or her job over an extended period of time, ultimately causing harm to the body. Overuse injuries are painful and can cause significant damage in some cases, even complete destruction of a tissue or bone in the most extreme cases, and often involve a long recovery time.
Common Types of Overuse Injuries Suffered By Workers
Many Florida workers experience overuse injuries as a result of doing their jobs. The repeated stress applied to the bones, muscles and soft tissues can produce severe injuries over the long term. Some of the most commonly encountered overuse injuries sustained by workers include, but are not limited to:
- Soft tissue injuries. Soft connective tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and muscles, can experience overuse injuries. Some of the most common soft tissue injuries include:
- Strains and sprains. Strains are injuries sustained by a muscle or the fibrous cords of the tendon, which is the soft tissue that connects muscles to bones. Sprains occur when a ligament, the soft tissue that connects one bone to another, is stretched or torn. When tendon tissue becomes inflamed or swollen due experiencing repeated stress.
- Tennis Elbow. Tennis elbow, also known as epicondylitis, is a condition of over extension of the elbow tendon that causes significant pain and limited rotation of movement at the elbow joint.
- Joint wear and bone fractures. Over time, repetitive movements can cause faster than average wear of the joints, or can cause the development of tiny bone fractures that accumulate over time and lead to a bigger injury to a bone or joint. These types of injuries are seen most often in the form of hip injuries.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome involves a compression of a nerve in the wrist call the median nerve. It can cause pain, tingling and numbness.
- Back Injuries. A worker can develop a number of injuries that affect the spine and back as a routine part of doing their job. Some common overuse back injuries include:
- Back strains, spasms, and sprains. Strains and sprains, as described above can also occur in the back. Spasms occur when a nerve is being pinched.
- Herniated discs. The soft, spongy tissue that surrounds the spinal cord is called a spinal disc, and it is surround by bones called vertebrae. When the vertebra are stretched apart, or moved out of alignment, the disc tissue can squeeze out, or herniate, out from the vertebra.
- Knee injuries. The knee can experience a number of different overuse injuries that usually result from the gradual increase of intensity and use of the knee over an extended period of time. The knee can also be injured if an overuse injury is suddenly exposed to a sudden force, causing the already weakened knee joint to fail.
- Torn meniscus. A forceful twist or a hyper-flexion of the knee can result in a torn meniscus, which is painful and can exhibit symptoms such as popping, swelling and weakness.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Laws For Overuse Injuries
While the common perception about workers’ compensation claims is that the injury needs to he the result of an accident or that the injury must be the result of a sudden or acute injury, workers that suffer a repetitive type overuse injury are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claims.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to how a worker obtains his or her injury. So long as the worker is injured while on the job, it does not matter if the injury is his or her own fault. Similarly, even if the worker has a pre-existing condition, and performing a job task caused that injury to become worse, the worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that nearly all Florida employers have just in case one of their employees is injured while on the job. Workers’ compensation provides the injured worker with replacement wages, for when the worker is unable to work due to his or her injuries, as well as medical expenses associated with that injury.
Reporting Your Overuse Injury
Florida workers that become injured on the job need to report their injury to their employer as soon as possible after suffering the injury. The sooner that a report is made, the better. Gradual onset injuries, like overuse or repetitive motion type injuries, are difficult to analyze and determine exactly when the injury occurred. Instead of waiting until the damage is irreparably done, workers should notify their employer at the first signs of discomfort, pain or injury when performing their job functions. Corrective action, such as providing workers with ergonomically designed tools to perform their jobs, could be a preemptive measure that could reduce the risk of a worker developing a repetitive motion injury.