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Spine Health: Repetitive Motion Disorders in Manual Labor Jobs

By June 28, 2018Workplace Injuries

Many Austin-area workers suffer from a serious repetitive motion disorder (RMD). In contrast to injuries caused by a sudden trauma, such as a car accident, an RMD is the result of repeated motions performed by an individual in the course of their day-to-day work. Most RMDs occur in and around the upper extremities, such as the hands, wrists, and shoulders. A common example of this type of RMD would be carpal tunnel syndrome, which is often associated with the repetitive stress of computer work.

But RMDs can affect other parts of the body as well, including a person’s spine. Indeed, according to one peer-reviewed medical article, the majority of work-related back injuries are “the result of long-term, repetitive wear and tear on the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and discs in the spine.” For example, if you work in a job that requires constant lifting, such as stocking shelves, over a period of many years you may develop a repetitive motion disorder in your back.

How Do I Know If I Have a Repetitive Motion Disorder?

If you are diagnosed with a back-related RMD arising from your job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Texas law. Of course, the first step in seeking benefits is to recognize you have a repetitive motion disorder. If you have not been previously diagnosed, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • You experience persistent pain in your back (or other body part) that becomes more intense over time. With some injuries, this pain may actually be more noticeable when you are engaged in movements outside of your normal work routine. For instance, maybe you do not have any pain while doing your normal lifting at work, but you do experience sudden, sharp pain at home when lifting your arms.
  • You start to notice a numbness or tingling sensation in your back, which may be an indication of nerve damage arising from repetitive stress.
  • You begin to experience fatigue while at work. Perhaps you are no longer able to work at the same rate and intensity as you did before. Or maybe the quality of your work has decreased, e.g., you are not able to easily pick up items anymore.

There are also steps you can take at work to reduce the possibility of developing an RMD. Remember to take regular breaks during the workday and always use proper techniques and protective equipment when engaged in any form of manual labor. Obviously, maintaining a regular exercise regimen outside of work can also help prevent an RMD.

Need Advice from an Austin Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

But at the end of the day, if you do have a repetitive motion disorder and you have the medical evidence to prove it was the result of on-the-job activity, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and its insurance company. If you need advice on how to proceed from a qualified Austin workers’ compensation attorney, contact DC Law today at (512) 220-1800.