Repetitive Strain Injury Compensation Claims

Repetitive strain injury (or RSI) is a generic term which encompasses a variety of injuries and diagnoses.  The most common are injuries affecting the hands, arms and back.

The generic terms, “work related upper limb disorder” and “cumulative back injury”, are also frequently used.  It is important at the outset of a claim to identify the exact diagnosis in order that the link with work related activities can be considered.  We frequently come across cases involving tenosynovitis, De Quervain syndrome, lateral epicondylitis, carpel tunnel syndrome and trigger finger.

What Causes Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)?

The main risk factors are thought to be continuous repetitive work without sufficient rest and recovery, the use of force and the need to adopt prolonged static or awkward postures.  Injuries occur most often in new employees or on return to work after an absence or on the introduction of a new process or tool which places unusual strain on muscles.

Often affected clients report an increase in work levels, or a reduction in staff leading to more work, shortly before symptoms of RSI arise.  There are many jobs which can cause these types of injuries, including:

  • Assembly line workers
  • Construction workers
  • Textile workers
  • Machinists
  • Hairdressers
  • Vegetable pickers
  • Pottery workers
  • Secretaries/data inputters 

What are the Symptoms of RSI?

Tenosynovitis

Sufferers of this condition often complain of pain on extending the wrist and tenderness and swelling on the thumb side of the wrist.

Tenosynovitis is commonly caused by repetitive, forceful use of the limbs in either work or sport.  It may occur by taking on new work or hobbies or returning to them after a break.

Resting the wrist and/or fingers for a few weeks will often resolve the problem.  In certain circumstances a steroid injection or surgical release might be performed.

Tennis elbow

Sufferers of this condition often complain of pain to the outer elbow on gripping or use of the arm.  Often people are unable to fully extend the arm because of pain.

The British Orthopaedic Association does not feel that the evidence supports that tennis elbow is more common in manual workers.  Many cases are considered constitutional in nature, occurring naturally in people in their 40s and 50s.  Heavy manual work can, on occasions, exacerbate the problem, accelerate the onset of symptoms or make the problem last longer.

Physiotherapy is often provided for this condition.  In certain circumstances a steroid injection or an operation to release the tissues in the elbow can resolve the problem.

De Quervain’s tenovaginitis

Suffers of this condition often complain of pain and swelling on the back of the wrist, near to the base of the thumb.  It is often difficult to extend the thumb.

Most cases of De Quervain’s tenovaginitis are thought to be constitutional in nature, occurring naturally.  Some cases may occur as a result of repetitive pinching activities with the wrist tilted away from the thumb.

Treatment options for this condition include anti-inflammatories and splints or a plaster cast.  In some cases a steroid injection or surgical release is required.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Sufferers of this condition often complain of tingling and numbness in the fingers.  It commonly affects patients at night and tends to get better once the fingers are moved about.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an extremely common condition in adults.  The majority of cases occur in women between the ages of 40 and 60.  Many cases are considered to be constitutional or naturally occurring in nature, however, there are a wide variety of additional conditions associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome including abnormal thyroid function, obesity, pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis.  It is thought that carpal tunnel syndrome is rarely caused by work but is frequently exacerbated by repetitive manual activities especially when repetitive gripping with force is required.

The wearing of night splints or physiotherapy can help with this condition.  Steroid injections and surgical release can also be provided in more serious cases.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be associated with vibration white finger.

Other conditions

There are various other conditions which fall under the umbrella of repetitive strain injuries, including, trigger finger, writer’s cramp, arthritis and golfer’s elbow.  Various symptoms including pain, numbness and weakness occur depending upon the diagnosis.

Your Employer’s Responsibility

Your employer has a duty to provide you with safe working practices and a safe working environment.  They have a duty to carry out risk assessments, reduce the force required for a job, provide effective training and instruction, provide adequate breaks and job rotation and introduce new employees slowly to production rates.  As soon as an employee reports any repetitive strain injury symptoms, the employer should take steps to ensure the condition does not become worse, for example, by moving the employee to a different job. 

Do you have a Repetitive Strain Injury Claim?

In order to pursue a successful repetitive strain injury claim, we must be able to show that your employer should have foreseen that your work might cause an injury and failed to take steps to prevent an injury or minimise the risk of it occurring.

We will look at various factors including when symptoms were first experienced, what you were doing when you first experienced symptoms, what your work involved, what training you had received, how often you had breaks or rotated your work and whether you have ever suffered similar problems before.

We must then prove that this caused your injury.  This is done by obtaining a medical report from an independent medical expert who will review your past medical history, examine you and provide their opinion as to the cause of your injury.   The relationship between the injury and work is strengthened if symptoms tend to get worse as the working week progresses and get better at weekends and during holidays.

If you believe you are suffering from a form of repetitive strain injury, caused by your work, speak to one of our expert industrial disease solicitors today and get the compensation you deserve.  You can also use our Claimometer for a quick and accurate estimate of what your claim could be worth.

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