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What are causes and symptoms of repetitive strain injuries?

When many people hear about someone developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI) on the job, they assume that the individual works in a secretarial field where they do a lot of typing. This isn’t the only type of profession where workers develop this type of injury though. Professional athletes, assembly line, construction, grocery store, delivery and trades workers and baristas all develop these injuries too.

Some of the more common diagnoses including tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis are all types of RSIs. These types of disabling chronic injuries are caused by workers training for sports, typing, reaching for tools, scanning items at a cash register or by them using a computer mouse.

Workers who find themselves constantly lifting heavy objects and putting the same muscles under stress are most apt to suffer an RSI. Anyone who maintains the same posture for an extended period may develop such a condition as well.

An RSI doesn’t just affect a person’s hands or wrists. Such an injury can lead to shoulder, back or neck pain as well as discomfort or instability in a worker’s elbows or forearms.

Some of the earliest symptoms that a worker who has developed an RSI will notice include weakness, numbness or tingling, progressively worsening pain, throbbing, stiffness, tenderness and sensitivity to varying temperatures.

In addition to taking a medical history, a doctor will first perform a physical exam to check for strength, tenderness, reflexes and inflammation when a worker comes to see them. They may order electromyography (EMG) to see if there’s been any nerve damage. An ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to assess whether tissues have been affected as well.

Workers may be prescribed medication and be fitted with splints soon after diagnosis. If the condition doesn’t resolve with such conservative approaches being taken, then a doctor may prescribe physical therapy. Your physician may ultimately perform surgery if the condition isn’t able to be treated using any other approach.

RSIs can be painful, and they can affect your ability to live the quality of life that you planned. If you can link your injury to a particular task that you perform in your Dauphin workplace, then you may be able to receive medical care and lost wages associated with your injuries. A workers’ compensation attorney can advise you of legal remedies that you can pursue here in Pennsylvania.


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