Especially in its earliest stages, a repetitive stress injury doesn’t seem that serious. Unlike a broken bone, a repetitive stress injury won’t completely prevent you from working. It may just slow you down or make some of your tasks uncomfortable or painful.
However, as the injury progresses, the pain that you experience and the impact on your strength, endurance and range of motion in the affected body part will increase. Eventually, you will need to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. You may also need to take a leave of absence for work or request modified work responsibilities from your employer.
Will the impact of a repetitive stress injury be permanent?
You can improve your symptoms and get back to work
A repetitive stress injury occurs when someone performs the same functions for extended amounts of time, eventually causing significant damage to the body parts involved. Someone who types all day or has to grip tools at work could develop carpal tunnel syndrome, for example.
Depending on the severity of the condition, a doctor may recommend rest, physical therapy or even surgery. In certain cases, such as surgical interventions, patients may have near-total recovery. Provided that they adhere to certain medical recommendations, they can potentially go back to the same job they have long performed. They may need to use medical devices, like braces, or perform frequent stretches or exercises to prevent a relapse, but they can continue the same line of work.
Other workers are not so lucky. Even with treatment, they may find that engaging in the same job responsibilities will result in their symptoms flaring up again. If reasonable accommodations don’t change the impact their job has on their condition, they may need to seek a different position. Often this change comes with a pay cut.
Workers’ compensation helps if your symptoms persist
For workers who can never perform the same job functions, permanent partial disability benefits can help if those limitations affect their earning potential. Workers’ compensation can provide benefits to supplement someone’s income after an injury. You could potentially receive up to two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and what you currently earn.
Understanding the benefits available through workers’ compensation can help you get the support you need when an injury affects your career.