A Brief Primer on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Overuse Injuries

August 8, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

When most people think of accidents that merit North Carolina workers’ compensation coverage, they think of catastrophes, like the explosion at the North Carolina Slim Jim plant in June 2009. Acute injuries attract ample media coverage. But overuse injuries stemming from chronic ergonomic effects often don’t, even though they account for a significant slice of North Carolina workers’ compensation claims.

Overuse injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSI), thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), “blackberry” thumb, joint and soft tissue damage, and eye strain often take months or even years to develop. But once an employee suffers chronic damage, he or she may find it very difficult to regain functions, find good care, and get enough North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical costs.

Recovering workers often complain that physicians are too quick to prescribe cortisone injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and surgeries. At the same time, many doctors who specialize in treatment of these injuries seem not to pay attention enough to more holistic factors, such as trigger points, poor workstation ergonomics, bad posture, and lack of physical activity and work breaks. That’s why it’s so important for injured North Carolina workers to get the facts about soft tissue injuries and to explore their treatment options thoroughly before paying for expensive interventions or agreeing to surgeries that can have permanent negative consequences if they don’t go precisely as planned.

Third Body Found in Slim Jim Plant Explosion Rubble, FoxNews, June 10, 2009

On the Other “Hand”
Repetitive Overuse Injuries of the Hand & Wrist, Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation

More Web Resources
Ergonomic Tips

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


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