Repetitive stress injuries can come in many different forms and cause a variety of problems, from numbness in the extremities to a limited range of motion due to tendon damage. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these injuries can affect a variety of areas on the body, including the elbows, fingers, arms and shoulders.
While employees across many different industries may understand how repetitive stress injuries develop, they might not know what types of serious long-term side effects could result when the damage goes untreated.
1. Herniated disks
Employees who lift, carry, bend and stretch as a part of their jobs can develop back problems such as herniated disks. When the cushioning between the vertebrae of the spine becomes worn or the discs become torn, this can cause serious back pain and limit the spine’s flexibility. If the problem goes untreated, those affected may eventually require surgery to correct it.
Some people confuse this painful swelling of the joints with arthritis, but bursitis affects the sacs of fluid around the joints, not the joints themselves. Repetitive stress syndrome can create or aggravate this condition, especially in the joints of the fingers. When the bursa around the joints becomes worn or strained, they might swell or experience inflammation. Bursitis can cause a limited range of motion and mild to moderate pain near the bursa, but physical therapy may help improve the problem.
3. Nerve issues
Nerve damage can occur with repetitive stress disorders, especially if the pain and other symptoms go untreated. Nerve compression in the affected area may cause localized numbness, shooting pains and even weakness as the injured nerves continue to degrade.
Those affected by repetitive stress disorders could also experience additional symptoms, such as temperature sensitivity. Reporting symptoms to an employer may help resolve any growing issues and avoid long-term physical complications.