Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Denver Workplace

At more and more Denver workplaces, computers are becoming the central, common piece to any employee’s desk setup. As the number of computer users rise, the number of computer-related work injuries are also rising. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2010 almost 70 percent of workers suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) could trace the wrist soreness and numbness to their jobs.

Work-related carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than in men, according to the CDC. In the last year alone, 3 percent of the age 18-64 workforce was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. “CTS is among the greatest drivers of workers’ compensation costs, lost time, lost productivity and disability,” noted Mary Burk of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is just one example of a repetitive stress injury (RSI) or an occupational disease that can occur in a Colorado workplace. Tendonitis and thoracic outlet syndrome, among others, are also considered RSIs. It’s not uncommon for these types of work-related injuries to show symptoms after the work day is complete, when you’re at home making dinner, playing with the family or doing other non-work-related activities. Despite when the pain is felt, RSIs may still qualify for Colorado workers’ compensation.

The good news is that RSIs like carpal tunnel syndrome may be preventable. A workstation should be set up to minimize or eliminate stress on the hands and wrists for employees who spend a majority of their day working at a computer.

Recognizing early warning signs of RSIs can allow employers and employees to attempt to modify whatever is causing the stress on the joints. For example, raised or tense shoulders may indicate that a keyboard or chair armrests are too high and should be lowered. If you are leaning forward toward your computer screen, the position of your monitor may be too high or you simply may need an eye exam. If you are consistently making the same motions over time, such as when entering data using a 10-key-pad, take frequent breaks and stretch your muscles.

Source: Medical Daily, “CDC Survey: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Mostly Linked to Work,” 23 December 2011

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