Perhaps you make your living driving a large delivery truck and your day consists of loading and unloading packages, many of them large and heavy.
After more than 20 years of the same work, your shoulder has begun to hurt, and you realize this could be a repetitive stress injury. What should you do now?
About a repetitive stress injury
You may associate a repetitive stress injury with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that affects many computer operators who constantly type on a keyboard and manipulate a mouse. Your shoulder problem could mirror their wrist issues in certain ways. Repetitive stress affects the soft tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves. A repeated motion can compress nerves or create tiny tears in tissues, and you may feel a tingling sensation, numbness, loss of strength in the shoulder muscles or outright pain. The injury may also be severe enough to affect your ability to perform your job.
You may be hesitant to go to your employer with your shoulder problem because you do not want to jeopardize your job. Your employer must report your injury and help you if you wish to file a claim for workers’ compensation. The company cannot terminate you for wanting to submit a claim; the law protects your position. Repetitive stress injuries are among the most common reasons employees have for filing workers’ compensation claims, and your next step is to visit a doctor to obtain an official medical diagnosis.
Your doctor may prescribe rest and rehabilitation, and you may need to have a medical leave from work. If your employer is making it difficult for you to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, he or she may be in violation of the law. With proper treatment, you can recover from your shoulder injury. By making a few changes in the way you manage your job as a delivery truck driver, you can continue your work. If your employer is resisting helping you file a claim for workers’ compensation, it may be time to explore your legal options.