Were you or a loved one diagnosed with a workplace RSI?
Our Macon, GA injury attorneys can help you get the benefits you deserve.
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Doing the same motions or tasks day in and day out can wreak havoc on your body in the long run. Even a seemingly harmless and low-impact activity like typing at a computer or scanning products can cause your body to wear down over time.
When many people think of repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, they think of office and desk jobs. However, there are many other occupations that give rise to these common workplace injuries including construction workers, janitors and cleaners, cooks and kitchen staff, bus and truck drivers, doctors and nurses, dental hygienists, grocery store clerks and cashiers, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist, and back (including repetitive motion injuries) accounted for roughly a third of all worker injury and illness cases in 2013.
What’s more, repetitive motion injuries take longer to fully recover — an average of 23 days (compared to 9 days for all other injuries). During this time, the injured worker may experience financial difficulty and wonder how they are going to pay the bills.
This is where workers’ compensation comes in.
At the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, our Macon injury attorneys can help secure the maximum workers’ compensation benefits available to you and your family. For the last 50 years, we’ve represented hundreds of injured workers in Macon-Bibb County and throughout the state of Georgia. We can help you take the right steps and negotiate on your behalf. We have the experience, knowledge and commitment to see your claim through to the end. We’ll secure the best possible outcome.
What is a repetitive motion injury?
Also referred to as a “repetitive stress/strain injury” (RSI) or “cumulative trauma disorder,” a repetitive motion injury is defined as a musculoskeletal disorder caused when a person performs the same motion repeatedly over and over again, which results in temporary or permanent damage (microtrauma) to a person’s muscles, nerves, ligaments or tendons. If left untreated, an RSI can eventually lead to chronic pain, weakness and loss of function or mobility in the affected body part.
Stages of RSI
RSI is a progressive disease, meaning the pain and discomfort worsens over time. Cumulative trauma disorders generally fall into the following categories:
- Stage 1 (mild). During this stage, you might experience some tingling, numbness, fatigue and pain in your arms, wrists, legs, shoulders or neck, but this discomfort is temporary and usually goes away at night. At this point, the condition is reversible with proper treatment.
- Stage 2 (moderate). If untreated, temporary discomfort may progress to a moderate repetitive stress injury which involves recurring and frequent pain, aching and fatigue — typically early in the working day and at night, which might impact your sleep. Physical swelling and inflammation may also be visible. During this period, people often take over-the-counter painkillers to alleviate their discomfort, but it’s important to understand that this is only treating the symptoms — not the disease.
- Stage 3 (severe). When a cumulative trauma disorder is ignored for long enough, it can become severe. You’ll know you’ve reached this stage if you are experiencing consistent pain, aching, weakness and fatigue in your tendons at night that causes you to lose sleep. Even basic tasks at work or home might be painful or impossible. Without proper treatment, your condition may become irreversible and you might permanently lose the use of an affected body part.
Examples of RSI
Tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons (the tissue that connects muscles to bones), is one of the most common repetitive use injuries treated by doctors. In fact, common ailments such as tennis elbow (epicondylitis) and trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) are actually caused by tendonitis.
Other common examples of repetitive motion injuries in the workplace and conditions related to cumulative trauma include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Degenerative arthritis
- Herniated disc
- Focal hand dystonia
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Raynaud’s disease
- De Quervain syndrome
- Rotator cuff syndrome
Common causes of cumulative trauma disorders
Some of the most common activities and causes of RSI in the workplace include:
- Muscle strain (overuse)
- Sudden movement
- Bad posture (poor ergonomics)
- Vibrating tools or equipment
- Cold working conditions
- Prolonged typing
- Working on an assembly line
- Lifting heavy objects
In addition to these and other causes, there are many potential risk factors that can increase your risk of suffering a work-related RSI such as your personal health and fitness level, a pre-existing condition or injury, and even your emotional well-being. Not only might these factors make an injury more likely, but they can impact your ability to recover.
Repetitive stress injury treatment and recovery
If an RSI is diagnosed early enough, your doctor may prescribe simple remedies to help alleviate your discomfort and help your body heal. These treatments may involve resting from the repetitive activity that is causing the injury, using heat/ice packs, and taking anti-inflammatory medicine. You may also be instructed to make ergonomic adjustments to your workspace to minimize further stress on your body and do conditioning exercises to strengthen the muscles.
However, if a repetitive use injury has progressed and pain persists, more drastic treatments may be required such as surgery, therapy, assistive devices, prescription medications, steroid injections, and the use of braces, splints or casts.
Depending on the type and severity of your repetitive stress injury, a number of medical professionals may be involved in your treatment and recovery journey — from orthopedic surgeons and neurologists to physical therapists, chiropractors and your primary care physician. An ergonomic specialist may also be brought in to help make your workspace more comfortable, or a vocational rehabilitation counselor might be needed to help you find different employment options that are within your capabilities.
The cost of all of these treatments from various medical professionals adds up quickly, which is where workers’ compensation can help.
Does workers’ compensation cover workplace RSI?
Since on-the-job repetitive motion injuries develop over a period of time, they are generally considered an occupational disease. In Georgia, the workers’ compensation system is set up to provide financial benefits for workers who developed a health condition or suffered an injury in the course of their job.
This compensation includes occupational illnesses and injuries arising from cumulative trauma.
Workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy,” meaning that you generally cannot sue your employer for an occupational injury, illness or disease — except in rare circumstances. However, by waiving the right to sue, injured workers in Georgia are able to receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault.
This means you are entitled to compensation no matter who or what caused your injury or condition. In other words, you don’t have to establish fault like you would in a personal injury case.
The workers’ compensation benefits you may be eligible for include:
- Medical bills. Reimbursement for any surgery, therapy or medication prescribed by your doctor to help treat your work-related condition.
- Lost wages. Payment of up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for as long as you were out of work due to your on-the-job injury, or to compensate you for reduced earning ability due to your light-duty restrictions.
- Travel expenses. Reimbursement for travel to and from doctors’ appointments for your job-related injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If you’re unable to work at your old job, workers’ compensation should provide you with job retraining benefits.
What to do if you are experiencing pain in the workplace
Don’t wait until your pain and loss of functionality is severe before seeing a doctor. Your health and well-being are a top priority. Therefore, you should get a medical evaluation if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a repetitive motion injury such as pain, tenderness, numbness, tingling, weakness or fatigue.
In Georgia, employers are permitted to provide a list of 6 authorized treatment physicians that injured workers must treat with, so your first step should be to notify your employer about your pain and get this list of approved healthcare providers. If your employer doesn’t have such a list, then you may treat with any doctor of your choosing.
Next, visit the approved doctor and explain your symptoms. Be honest and be sure the doctor understands what you do for work and how that might have caused your pain. Follow any treatment or prescriptions the doctor orders, and attend all follow-up appointments.
Your employer or a representative from their workers’ compensation insurance company should provide you with a Notice of Claim form (WC-14) and instructions on how to file your claim. In addition to submitting your completed form to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, you must send a copy of the form to your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or delayed for any reason whatsoever, or you have questions about how to protect your legal rights, you should consult with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney near you. At WPMH Legal, we’ll make sure that all the necessary information is filled out and submitted before the deadline, and we’ll negotiate with the insurance company to secure the maximum settlement possible in your case.
“Great staff. Very professional and knowledgeable. Staff went out of their way to accommodate us in every way possible. Made the whole process less painful. They made sure we understood everything that was going on and would answer any questions a hundred times over if needed.”
The resources needed to win
Unlike some work injury attorneys who settle all of their cases, we are not afraid to appeal a denied claim if needed. Our firm has the resources needed to thoroughly prepare, try and win complicated cases.
We are dedicated to doing everything legally and ethically possible to obtain the best results for our injured clients. Hard work and dedication have allowed us to recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims.
Discover your rights after a workplace RSI in Georgia
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with an occupational illness or disease such as tendonitis or another repetitive motion injury, we invite you to contact our Macon attorneys to learn what steps to take and how to protect your rights before it’s too late. Let us help you file a work injury claim and secure the maximum workers’ compensation benefits owed to you. If your benefits were unfairly denied, we’ll fight to appeal the decision and help hold any negligent third party accountable for your pain and suffering.
If you have questions, give us a call or contact us online for your free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. From offices in Macon, Albany and Warner Robins, we help injured workers throughout Georgia. Don’t settle for less, get more.