As we get older, some aches and pains begin to creep into our game plan. Perhaps we over-extend ourselves on weekends. Perhaps we just lift something awkwardly at work. Younger workers may feel the same aches but within a week or two their bodies typically recover to full strength. For older workers, however, the problem may be more than just an over-extended muscle. repetitive stress pain related to bursitis and tendonitis begin to set in due to repetitive stress caused by too much every-day use.
For the next couple of posts, we’ll be looking at painful medical conditions that are often caused by repetitive stress over time. This post, we’ll look at bursitis as a medical condition, as well as a work-related injury for workers’ compensation benefits.
First, let’s discuss bursitis a little further
You may recall from a couple of posts ago that we discussed bursitis, one of the most painful types of repetitive stress injuries.
WebMD describes bursitis describes bursitis as the swelling of the joints and tendons, resulting when small sacs filled with fluid swell up. The bursai sacs (from which bursitis gets its name) are intended to buffer bones, joints and tendons from rubbing against each other during movement. When they swell, however, they can feel as if they do more harm than good, putting pressure on the nearby moving parts.
Who is most likely to develop bursitis?
Bursitis develops through normal wear-and-tear on joints through extended repetitive use. As you might expect, joints such as shoulders, elbows and knees are most susceptible. Like the rest of the human body, tendons get old and don’t recover between episodes of overuse. Therefore, bursitis can take on the effects of a chronic condition if the same joint is used over and over again. Older workers who work in manual labor jobs are among the most likely to develop the condition, which can result in serious pain during daily work activities, but can also flare up at night. Surprisingly, people who lead sedentary lifestyles are also susceptible to the condition, brought on after sudden bursts of extensive exercise the body isn’t accustomed to.
Treatment and prevention
The medical treatment for bursitis is generally pain relief medication recommended by your doctor, while allowing the joint to rest. That may mean no activity for an extended period of time. If you are a younger worker new to a strenuous manual job, stretching gently at the beginning of each work day can help prevent the condition. If you are over 40 and already feeling the effects of your working life, there isn’t much to do except rest the affected joints. That may mean requesting a change in work duties or taking time off to allow the condition to recover naturally through time. If bursitis is a persistent problem, joint replacement surgery may be an option to discuss with your doctor.
In Colorado, workers who have been diagnosed with a serious bursitis condition may be eligible to apply for short-term workers’ compensation benefits to allow their bodies the time necessary to recover from the pain and stiffness. Discuss the option with your human resources department and with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Next post, we’ll discuss tendonitis and how it also can lead to debilitating pain and immobility that makes it impossible to continue working until treated properly.