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Have you linked the pain in your hands to your job?

Does the pain that you experience in your wrist or hand when you attempt tasks like opening a bottle cap puzzle you? Your job might be to blame, and it could get worse. You might have one of several painful conditions that fall under repetitive strain injuries -- abbreviated as RSI. Thousands of California workers in different occupations develop RSI over time if their jobs have them repeating similar motions day in and day out.

RSI does not follow a sudden injury, and it is not a musculoskeletal disorder or a muscle strain or sprain, which typically heals in a relatively short time. RSI pain typically persists and becomes worse over time.

RSI symptoms

Initially, you might experience the following RSI symptoms every time you repeat the task that caused it:

  • Dull ache
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Tightness
  • Throbbing
  • Pain

When RSI first appears, you might experience the symptoms only during the execution of the task, with relief as soon as you stop repeating the motions. However, over time, the pain will be ever-present and exacerbated by making repetitive motions.

Who is at risk?

Any job that requires the worker to use the same body part repetitively might put you at risk. If your job involves typing and manipulating a computer mouse for hours on end, you might develop RSI. Poor or awkward body posture while doing your job, or having to use force while doing it can increase the chances of injury.

If instead, you work on an assembly line in a factory, meat-processing plant, as a musician, carpenter, gardener or garment worker, you will also be a candidate for RSI. You might prevent the development of the condition by taking frequent breaks from your task.

Many questions about RSI remain unanswered, such as why swelling and inflammation develops only in some cases. It is also unclear why only some workers develop the condition, even though they all make the same repetitive motions for the same hours every day. Some researchers suggest that workplace stress or other psychosocial occupational factors that cause increased muscle tension might play a role.  

RSI types

Repetitive stress injuries, which are also known as repetitive motion disorders, cumulative trauma disorders and overuse syndromes cause the following conditions:

  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Bursitis
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Trigger finger

In most cases, resolving RSI requires surgery, which can be costly and cause extended absences from work. If left untreated it could cause permanent damage.

Know your rights

The California workers' compensation insurance system provides financial assistance to victims of workplace injuries or illnesses. However, proving that RSI is work-related might require the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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