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Recognizing repetitive stress injuries

The most common injuries in the United States are those caused by repetitive motion. If you are constantly performing the same physical actions over and over again while on the job, you could be at risk of suffering a repetitive motion injury.

As a construction worker, you may be more concerned about falling from scaffolding, getting hit in the head with a falling I-beam, or being electrocuted by faulty wiring. But what about the eight hours you spent yesterday wielding a sledgehammer or the four hours the day before jackhammering through concrete? The constant stress you put on your body while performing these types of tasks can cause debilitating damage to your joints and tendons.

The most common of the repetitive stress injuries are tendinitis and bursitis. Very often, if you have one, you also have the other. These types of injuries can be cause by repeated movement on a daily basis or by trauma from an accident.

Suffering from a repetitive motion injury caused by your job duties can leave you in extreme pain and cause you to take sick days. Fortunately, if you have an injury caused by your work duties or an accident while on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Below are symptoms most commonly associated with repetitive stress injuries. If you suffer from these symptoms or think that you may have an injury, go see a doctor immediately and notify your employer.


Tendinitis occurs when your tendon becomes inflamed due to an injury or overuse. You will feel pain directly at the site of the injury and sometimes the skin over the inflamed tendon will be red and warm to the touch.

If the pain is occurring where your arm meets the shoulder and it can be reproduced by flexing your elbow at 90 degrees while turning your hand palm up against the resistance, then you could be suffering from tendinitis in your bicep.

Pain that is in your elbow can be what is commonly known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, depending on which way you flex your wrist that causes the pain. If you experience pain in your elbow when your wrist is flexed backward, it is most likely tennis elbow. With golfer’s elbow, the pain will be made worse when you flex your wrist forward.

If you have tendinitis in your rotator cuff, you will feel it most when you raise the arm attached to the affected shoulder out to the side.


When suffering from bursitis, you will feel pain, tenderness, and a decreased range of motion in the area that is injured. You may also experience redness and swelling, as well as a crunchy or grinding sensation when the affected joint is moved.

If this condition is in your knee, you will have swelling around the bottom of the kneecap. The lower part of the kneecap will be red and warm to the touch and experience pain when bending and straightening your leg. In general, the range of motion will be much less than normal.

Similar to the knee, if this condition exists in your elbow, there will be pain, redness, and swelling. Usually, the pain will get worse when you flex and extend your arm.

When suffering from bursitis of the hip, the pain will be increased when you are walking or lying on the side that is injured. Moving your leg out to the side or bringing it back to the middle of your body will also cause additional pain in the affected area.

Repetitive stress injuries can start as a minor inconvenience but end up debilitating if not treated properly. Also, it may take a significant amount of time before you really start seeing the symptoms of such an injury.

However, just because you did not suffer a broken bone while on the job, does not mean you are not entitled to recoup compensation for medical bills and lost wages due to a repetitive motion injury.