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5 Common Causes of Pain and Repetitive Strain at Work

Repetitive strain injuries and posture-related injuries affect millions of US workers annually. Regular breaks and ergonomic equipment can help prevent them.

missouri worker using a keyboard and mouse

Every year, a staggering 1.8 million workers in the US suffer from repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, which occur when muscles, tendons, and ligaments experience the same type of strain and stress over a prolonged period. A further one million or more workers suffer from back and other posture-related injuries, common with office, construction, and manufacturing jobs, and vary from mild to severe and debilitating cases.

Understanding the causes of RSIs and posture injuries goes a long way toward avoiding them in the workplace. This article will highlight some of the most common causes of workplace posture and repetitive strain injuries. 

Repetitive Motions

Most cases of RSIs are caused by repeating the same motions repeatedly. These repeated motions cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that get bigger over time, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Activities like typing, moving the mouse, or packing items in factories are examples of repetitive motions that cause these injuries. You can avoid these repetitive motions by taking short, regular breaks every 10 to 15 minutes. During these breaks, stretch the affected region to relieve pain and soreness.

Forceful Movements and Overexertion

When tools and equipment are unusable for specific tasks, workers must often use brute force to accomplish them. This is especially true for lifting heavy objects, pushing heavy loads, and using certain power tools. The forceful exertions irritate the tendons, joints, and docs, causing injury.

Awkward Positions

Awkward postures and positions increase your susceptibility to repetitive strain and posture injuries. Your posture is “awkward” when it doesn’t align with the body’s natural center of gravity, which unevenly distributes your body against specific muscles and joints. This extra stress on specific muscles, tendons, and joints eventually leads to injury.

Unfortunately, sometimes awkward postures at work are unavoidable, but taking regular breaks helps reduce the likelihood of injury. Office workers should also consider investing in ergonomic furniture that aligns their bodies to their natural center of gravity.

Excessive Vibrations

Unfortunately, working with vibrating tools and machines is unavoidable for most people in the construction and manufacturing industry. Too much vibration from machines, vehicles, and power tools can lead to repetitive strain injuries. Exposure to vibration over extended periods damages nerves, muscles, tendons, and joints. Workers can help avoid these injuries by taking regular breaks and working rotating shifts.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors like cold weather make the muscles work less efficiently. That’s because cold weather constricts the blood vessels leading to decreased blood flow to the muscles. This means you have to work harder than usual. Cold weather also reduces the muscles’ flexibility, increasing the risk of injury.

Strain and Posture Injury at Work? Speak With a Work Injury Lawyer

While repetitive strain and posture injuries are a staple for most industries, they’re often avoidable. Taking regular breaks, working in rotation, and using ergonomic equipment are a few ways to avoid such injuries. Workers may also need to discuss their long shifts compromising their muscle and joint health with management.

Do you have a repetitive strain or posture injury from your job? Speak with a St. Louis work injury lawyer to protect your legal rights and get the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve.

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Updated: April 24, 2023