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Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive stress injuries?

Most jobs require you to perform specific tasks over and over again. Office workers often spend long hours using a computer, while factory employees may repeat the same motion throughout the day to operate a machine or assemble a component. Over time, these motions can cause increased stress on specific parts of the body, causing pain, numbness, weakness and a variety of different medical conditions. What should California workers know about repetitive stress injuries?

What are common conditions related to repetitive stress?

Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) include a wide variety of different conditions—some temporary and some permanent—related to repeated motions or stress. Some common conditions related to repetitive motion include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndromeWorking with vibrating tools, using a computer mouse and other workplace tasks can put pressure on the nerves in your arm, causing numbness or weakness.
  • Rotator cuff injuries—Often associated with construction and other industries that involve heavy lifting, rotator cuff injuries can result in weakness as well as significant pain in the shoulder.
  • Tennis elbow—Repeated arm motions like turning a screwdriver or wrench can lead to painful inflammation of the elbow joint.
  • Tendonitis—When a person overuses a specific tendon, that tendon can become inflamed.
  • Bursitis—Placing repeated pressure on a joint or overusing that joint can cause inflammation in the fluid-filled sacs that are meant to cushion those joints.

The pain and inflammation caused by these conditions can leave workers unable to perform the daily tasks necessary to do their job.

Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits for a repetitive stress injury?

While many people associate workers’ compensation benefits with a fall from a ladder, an accident involving a faulty machine or other sudden and unexpected injuries, these benefits can also help people suffering from a repetitive stress injury. As the California Department of Industrial Relations notes, the law requires your employer’s insurance to pay for benefits if your injury or condition is related to repeated exposure like repetitive motion in the workplace.

If you experienced an injury due to the daily tasks of your job, it is important that you report your condition as soon as possible to get the benefits you need. You may also want to speak to an attorney about your injury to ensure that you meet all necessary deadlines and have the documentation you need when applying for benefits.