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5 Common Cumulative Trauma Injuries in the Workplace


Cumulative trauma injuries are sometimes difficult to link back to your work activities, as they require a long time to form and can even be made worse by certain personal activities.

Cumulative trauma or repetitive stress refers to injuries, usually at a musculoskeletal and nervous system level, caused by repetitive tasks, nerve compressions, forceful exertions, and other activities. These activities do not necessarily cause an injury instantly, like if you slipped and fell at work. Instead, injuries form because of the repetition of an activity.

missouri worker with a cumulative trauma injury

These are common types of injuries in the American workforce, where many people perform the same actions repeatedly. From cashiers to desk workers to even those working in factories and construction sites, almost anyone can suffer from cumulative trauma injuries.

Here are 5 types of injuries that are caused by repetitive stress or cumulative trauma:

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the hand’s median nerve is compressed, which causes numbness, tingling, and even weakness in the hand. It’s caused by repetitive motions in your hand and keeping the wrist extended, such as constant typing.

2. Tendinitis

Tendinitis is irritation or inflammation in your tendons, which can be localized in your knees, shoulders, elbows, arms, etc.

While a sudden injury can cause it, tendinitis is commonly linked to repetitive tasks. There can be many types of tendonitis, which you likely know under more popular names such as:

  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Tennis elbow
  • Pitcher’s shoulder, etc.

3. Neck and Shoulder Injuries

Repetitive tasks can also lead to stiffness, tingling, or even pain in the neck and shoulder area. They can be caused by overextending the limbs or even having an improper posture while performing work tasks.

4. Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease usually occurs in old age, but strenuous physical work can also cause it. It involves the discs between the vertebrae becoming worn out and leads to pain in the spine. 

5. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a nerve compression from the spine and blood vessels from the heart that go to the arm muscles. It’s usually caused by performing overhead tasks for long periods and can cause numbness in the fingers, weak wrist pulse, and arms falling asleep. It’s easily confused with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Workers Compensation for Cumulative Trauma Injuries

If your injury is work-related, you generally have the right to seek worker’s compensation in the State of Missouri.

These injuries are sometimes difficult to link back to your work activities, as they require a long time to form and can even be made worse by certain personal activities. However, an experienced St. Louis worker’s compensation attorney can help ensure you get the full amount of compensation you are legally entitled to.

Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann today at (314) 361-4300. We have over 30 years of experience protecting the rights of injured workers in Missouri and can evaluate your claim for FREE.

Updated: April 15, 2021
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