Last post, we took a quick look at bursitis, its causes and what it means to workers who can no longer work because of pain and immobility. This post, we’ll look at it’s “sister” condition, tendonitis.
Tendonitis (may also be spelled tendinitis according to WebMD), is any pain and stiffness associated with the irritation of the thick cord (tendon) that attaches the muscles to bones throughout the body. In most cases, the muscles are attached at joints. The larger the joint, such as the knee, shoulder or elbow, the larger the tendon will be and the more stress it will be subject to throughout the day. Perhaps most people know one form of tendonitis by its most familiar name, tennis elbow.
What types of work activities cause tendonitis?
It is a mistake to think that tendonitis will only be brought on by heavy lifting or obvious repetitive movements such as pulling a heavy lever — or even hitting tennis balls all day. In fact, any worker whose job requires repetitive motion is subject to irritating the tendon associated with the local joint. Depending upon repetitive daily work activities over a long period of time, a an office worker running envelopes through a postage meter is just as likely to develop tendonitis in the wrist as a carpenter swinging a heavy hammer all day.
Some of the most common areas tendonitis develops in workers across all industries include:
- The base of the thumb
- Elbows and shoulders
- Knees and hips
- Ankles and heel (achilles tendon)
Statistically, workers over 40 who have been working in the same type of job for many years are most likely to exhibit symptoms of tendonitis, which typically begins as a dull ache and stiffness, particularly when it affects the shoulder. With use over the course of the day the shoulder elasticity may loosen up a bit, but the pain and stiffness often returns a few hours after the work shift, only to start the problem all over again the next day.
Avoiding and treating tendonitis
If you know your job will require repetitive motion, be aware of the likelihood of contracting tendonitis over time. Start out carefully to avoid any pain due to sudden overstress. Discuss tricks and tips with old pros on the job and talk to your supervisor about safety methods to avoid any type of repetitive stress injury over time.
If you start to feel tell-tale signs of stiffness or pain, don’t just work through it. See your doctor and get onto a treatment plan. Your doctor may prescribe aspirin or ibuprofen to keep the swelling down. If the condition becomes debilitating, an official diagnosis will likely qualify you to receive temporary partial disability benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Next post, we will discuss the office worker’s nemesis, carpal tunnel syndrome.