Common Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

Workers' Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries.

Scanning barcodes. Inputting computer data. Cradling a phone between your head and shoulder. These job-related tasks may not seem dangerous, but over time, these repeated movements can lead to soft tissue or nerve damage. Repetitive stress injuries, or cumulative trauma disorders, account for about 60 percent of all workplace injuries, and one in eight employees has been diagnosed with one at some point.Repetitive stress injuries, or cumulative trauma disorders, account for about 60 percent of all workplace injuries, and one in eight employees has been diagnosed with one at some point.

Depending on the severity of the damage, a repetitive stress injury can impact your ability to perform your job and may even require surgery. While employers should take necessary steps to protect employees from tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries, not all do. Fortunately, repetitive stress injuries are covered under workers’ compensation insurance, and you may be eligible for benefits in certain situations.

What is a repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury?

A repetitive stress injury is a result of cumulative mini-traumas to the body’s soft tissue or tendons. Repeated movements, such as sawing and cutting, writing, painting, and assembly line work, can contribute to repetitive stress injuries. Fixed position activities, like prolonged sitting or standing, gripping or grasping, and holding a particular position for extended periods, can also lead to cumulative trauma disorders. Symptoms of a repetitive stress injury include pain, swelling, tingling, numbness, stiffness, weakness, and sensitivity to cold or heat.

The 5 most common repetitive stress injuries in the workplace

The most common repetitive stress injuries involve trauma to the upper extremities, including the wrists, elbows, and hands. Repeated turning of the head can also lead to repetitive stress injuries to the neck and shoulders, while constant lifting can cause trauma to the back. The following represent some of the most common repetitive stress injuries in the workplace:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition caused by excess pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve runs down the arm and through the wrist, controlling sensation and movement in the thumb and first three fingers. Repeated hand and wrist movements, such as those made by workers on an assembly line, can increase the sensitivity of the median nerve and result in pain, tingling, and weakness.


Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that cushion the body’s joints. It often affects the knees, shoulders, elbows, and hips and is caused by overuse. In the workplace, heavy lifting often puts excess strain on the shoulder, which can lead to a bursitis diagnosis. Bursitis tends to be more painful while the joint is in use, but it can also hurt at night.


Tendonitis is a condition that pertains to the swelling of tendons in the body, usually in the hands, elbows, and shoulders. As tendons are overused, they become swollen, which can lead to tears and inflammation. Symptoms include pain and lack of mobility in the area, which gradually increases in severity if the condition isn’t treated. Tendonitis is often a result of tasks related to carpentry, cleaning, painting, and gardening.

De Quervain's Disease

De Quervain's Disease pertains to inflammation of the tunnel that contains the two tendons that control the movement of the thumb. It causes pain and swelling at the base of the thumb and into the lower arm. This condition can affect a worker’s ability to grip objects. De Quervain’s Disease can be caused by any workplace activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movements.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

is a condition that is caused by compression of nerves that run through the space between the lower neck and first rib. In addition to poor posture, repetitive movements like typing on a computer, lifting things above your head, and working on an assembly line can contribute to thoracic outlet syndrome. Symptoms include pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers.

Do you suffer from a repetitive stress injury? You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Repetitive work-related activities like bending, reaching, grabbing, and twisting all take a toll on the physical body. Over time, these repeated motions can contribute to injuries that impact your ability to perform your job duties and cause discomfort even when you’re not at work. If you believe you have developed a repetitive stress injury as a result of an unsafe work environment, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits that will cover your medical expenses and missed wages while you’re off your feet.

At the Law Office of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we have 45 years of collective experience helping injured workers collect the benefits they deserve. No matter how complex your case may be, our attorneys will fight hard to make sure you receive every last dollar you’re entitled to. Call us today at (619) 528-9800 for a free consultation.