What are Repetitive Motion Injuries in Workers’ Compensation?


Workers’ compensation can cover a wide variety of injuries. Many people associate workers’ compensation claims with traumatic, sudden, or severe injuries, but all types of injuries occur at work.


Other injuries, including repetitive motion injuries, can be just as painful and frustrating, keeping you from performing daily tasks. All injury types deserve care and support. Here, we’ll cover repetitive motion injuries, which are very common in workers’ compensation. 

Types of repetitive motion injuries 

In many cases, work-related injuries occur over time, known as cumulative trauma disorders, occupational overuse syndrome, or repetitive motion injuries. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted regulations for occupational risk factors of repetitive force, posture, and tasks which may be persuasive to medical providers and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.


Here are some of the most common repetitive motion injuries: 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The most well-known repetitive motion injury is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). This condition occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist level, causing pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in the hands. CTS is common in factory, assembly, construction, and office/clerical workers. However, CTS has been traced to using vibrating construction tools and jackhammers. Common symptoms include waking up at night with tingling or numbness and general hand weakness. Most treatment plans include corticosteroid injections, medication, and surgery.

Gunyon Syndrome

Gunyon Syndrome is a common diagnosis of workers complaining of hand and wrist pain that causes weakness, pain, numbness, and tingling in the ring finger and pinky finger. Entrapment of the ulnar nerve on the inside portion of the wrist causes Gunyon Syndrome.

Tennis Elbow & Golfer’s Elbow

Another common repetitive work injury is epicondylitis. With this diagnosis, the tendons around the elbow become inflamed, causing significant pain and loss of use. Medial epicondylitis is known as golfer’s elbow, and lateral epicondylitis is known as tennis elbow. With a golfer’s elbow, you have overused the flexor muscles. If you have a tennis elbow, you have injured your extensor muscles. There is little debate that both conditions result from repetitive wrist extension or continual strenuous gripping.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Employees requiring repetitive overhead reaching may develop rotator cuff syndrome. This condition affects the shoulder region, causing immobility, weakness, and pain. The rotator cuff consists of a collection of tendons that support the shoulders, and the tearing of these tendons causes significant discomfort and loss of range of motion. As a result, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to lift the arm over a 90-degree angle. Factory, retail, restaurant, and manufacturing employees commonly develop this injury. Steroid injections, therapy, pharmacology, and surgery are standard methods for treating repetitive shoulder conditions.

Proper care for repetitive motion injuries 

Anyone with symptoms from work-related injuries should consult an extremity orthopedic specialist. Diagnostic films, studies, and scans help with diagnosis. For example, Electromyography (EMG) determines nerve latency with carpal tunnel syndrome, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan evaluates rotator cuff syndrome. In addition to these diagnostic tools, the doctor may perform clinical evaluations such as Tinel’s sign testing.


Repetitive motion injuries get overlooked, and many workers delay treatment, but workers should take them seriously. If you have questions about legal rights for workers’ compensation, please contact our team. We are here to help answer your questions.