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What Should Workers Know about Orthopedic Injuries?

workers orthopedic injuries

Many jobs require workers to perform the same task over and over. Others might require heavy lifting and downright athletic ability to get work done. Whether doing a common work motion, trying to accomplish a more strenuous task, or simply bending or reaching to collect something, orthopedic injuries are common.

Orthopedic injuries account for more than a third of workplace injuries. Orthopedic injuries frequently require workers to take time away work to heal properly. When the injury occurs at work or is due to your job, Workers’ Compensation should pay all medical costs and for your time away from work. Orthopedic injuries tallied more than $47 billion in medical costs and lost productivity in 2019.

Orthopedic Injuries Explained

An orthopedic injury is one that affects the musculoskeletal system, including soft tissue. Sprains, muscle tears, and similar commonly occurring injuries are examples of orthopedic injuries. Broken bones are also considered orthopedic injuries.

When orthopedic injuries occur in the workplace, they are classified as acute orthopedic injuries. Acute injuries account for many of the commonly occurring workplace orthopedic injuries and commonly are caused by:

  • Overexertion
  • Repetitive motion
  • Reactions by worker

Whenever you use excessive force to get the job done and suffer a non-impact injury, that is an example of overexertion causing an acute orthopedic injury. Repetitive motion also commonly injures workers. Also, a sudden reaction to a workplace condition might cause a muscle tear, strain, or similar soft tissue injury. You also could suffer from an orthopedic injury from contact with an object or equipment while working.

Common Overexertion Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Fatigue often is a factor in workers suffering orthopedic injuries from overexertion. If you work in the construction industry, a warehouse, as a truck driver, or in other occupations that might require heavy lifting or exertion, you could run a relatively high risk of suffering a back injury, muscle strain, or joint and soft tissue injuries.

Improper lifting techniques and attempting to move objects that are too heavy for one person to move safely commonly cause overexertion injuries. Although pulled or strained muscles generally are minor injuries, they can linger and reduce your ability to do your job. The potential for re-injury is high with overexertion injuries.

The best way to prevent them is to use proper lifting techniques that do not strain your back or lead to pulled muscles or strains. Using a reinforcing belt can help to prevent back injuries. Also, lifting equipment should be used when loads are too heavy or too dangerous to move by hand.

Common Repetitive Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Many workers use the same general motion repetitively to get the job done throughout the workday. When you do the same motion over and over with one or both hands or other body parts, you run the risk of injury from repetitive motion. Repetitive injuries often affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments that get strained from the repetitive motion.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most pervasive of repetitive injuries. It commonly afflicts grocery cashiers who continually pick up and scan goods with the same hand. Anyone who works at a computer likewise uses repetitive motions that could lead to the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an especially painful condition that happens when pressure affects the nerves that run through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. The pressure commonly comes from tendons or ligaments that become swollen because of injury from repetitive motion. When they press against the carpal tunnel, the nerves within it can cause a very sharp pain. Anyone who uses a vibrating tool or even a computer mouse while working could experience carpal tunnel syndrome.

You could wear supporting orthopedic devices, such as a wrist brace or a knee brace, to help reinforce body parts that enable your repetitive motion. The additional support can lessen the tension on your soft tissue and prevent the strains and swelling that accompany soft tissue injuries.

Common Reaction Injuries and How to Prevent Them

A reaction injury happens when you react to a sudden situation, such as slipping on a stairway. The sudden reaction could cause a pulled or torn muscle, strained tendons or ligaments, or other injuries. Those injuries could greatly inhibit your ability to continue working while healing up. If you continue working, repeated injuries could occur and causer the problem to linger.

A reaction injury often is not immediately noticeable and might take several days to manifest itself. The extent of the injuries often is relatively minor, but they could lead to more serious injuries. If you suffer a reaction injury that weakens a part of your body, you might suffer a more serious injury while attempting heavy lifting afterward.

Reaction injuries are harder to prevent, owing to their purely accidental nature. But it always helps to wear proper equipment for doing your job and to pay close attention to your surroundings for any lurking dangers.

Delayed Treatment Often Makes Orthopedic Injuries Worse

One of the biggest problems with orthopedic injuries that you might suffer while working is the delay between the accident and its effect. Many workers commonly suffer minor injuries that generally heal on their own. However, injuries could become worse if left untreated.

Orthopedic injuries can be more problematic because of their effect on moving joints and body parts. A simple muscle pull could become a more serious injury if you ignore it and continue working. By the time it the injury becomes more apparent, you might have suffered additional injuries while trying to compensate for the original orthopedic injury.

Workers’ Compensation Protection for Orthopedic Injuries

No matter how the injury occurred, when it happened while you were performing your job duties, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation protection. Virtually all states require employers to carry Workers’ Compensation protection.

When you suffer an orthopedic injury or other type of injury while working, the Workers’ Compensation coverage is supposed to pay for your medical bills and other costs. The other costs include the wages that you cannot earn while away from work because of the workplace injury.

If you are injured while working and accept Workers’ Compensation payments, you give up your right to sue your employer for damages. However, if your employer or the insurance adjuster denies your claim, you might have to pursue a legal claim in court.

Proving Orthopedic Injuries in the Workplace

When you suffer an acute orthopedic injury, your employer or an insurance adjuster for a Workers’ Compensation underwriter could deny your claim. A denied claim for an orthopedic injury usually happens when the employer or insurance adjuster believes you might have suffered the injury at home instead of work.

If there is no direct and obvious cause, such as a workplace accident that caused your orthopedic injury, it is easier for your employer or a Workers’ Compensation insurer to challenge your claim. Without an immediate and obvious cause for your injury, you still can make compelling claims that help you to obtain your lawful Workers’ Compensation coverage for the damages arising from a workplace injury.

You always have the opportunity to appeal any decision against you when you file for Workers’ Compensation coverage for workplace injuries. If a review results in the same decision, you would have the right to pursue a lawsuit against at-fault parties, including your employer. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer is a strong asset when pursuing claims against employers and other at-fault parties.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Injured Workers Recover

If you sustained an orthopedic injury at work, reach out to the experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our legal team is available to help injured workers make strong legal claims. We will fight to ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.