When you think of a workplace injury, you probably imagine something acute that occurs because of an accident. For example, if you slip and fall at your job, you may land on your head and get a concussion. But not all workplace injuries happen like this. Some are cumulative.

You may suffer from repetitive stress injuries that develop over time. Some people refer to these injuries as repetitive motion disorders, overuse injuries or cumulative trauma. The more you know about these types of injuries in the workplace, the better you can prevent them.

Common repetitive stress injuries

Some conditions that may develop as a result of repetitive motions include the following:

  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Low back pain
  • Bursitis
  • Trigger finger

The symptoms include loss of flexibility and strength, numbness, tingling, pain, redness and swelling.

Workers at risk

Virtually any employee can get an injury from repetitive motion, but some workers are at high risk:

  • Nurses
  • Janitors
  • Retail clerks
  • Food processing workers
  • Office/computer workers

If your work involves any continuous repetitions of motions, incorrect posture, overexertion or muscle fatigue, you may suffer from a repetitive motion disorder.

Common causes

Activities and motions that may cause or contribute to a repetitive injury include the following:

  • Frequent lifting
  • Working in awkward positions
  • Using vibrating machinery
  • Typing on a keyboard

Sometimes, all you need to prevent injuries are adequate breaks from your work.

What to do if you think you are hurt

Resist the temptation to “tough it out.” Just because it is not a broken bone or concussion does not mean you or anyone else should ignore it. Keep a journal to write down what workplace activities cause the injury. If you want to file a workers’ compensation claim, make sure you report your injury to your employer within 21 days. If you fail to report your repetitive stress injury within this timeframe, you may lose out on the chance at receiving benefits.