Can You Claim for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Joint pain

Repetitive strain injury is a common injury suffered by many workers in the UK. It is a general term used to describe pain and discomfort caused by repetitive actions which affect muscles, tendons and nerves in the upper body. Your employer has a responsibility to ensure that safe working conditions protect you against such an injury.

If you have sustained a repetitive strain injury at work, then you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our experienced personal injury solicitors to find out how we can help you bring a successful claim.

What Are the Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive strain injury, also commonly referred to as work-related upper limb disorder (or non-specific upper limb pain), commonly affects the neck and shoulders, wrists and hands or forearms and elbows. As it can affect any part of your upper body, the symptoms will vary. However, there are certain things that should be looked out for to prevent the condition from worsening. 

The symptoms associated with a repetitive strain injury can vary in their severity. Furthermore, they could also come on suddenly or develop gradually over time. Common symptoms of RSI include stiffness, throbbing, pain, aching, tenderness, numbness, weakness or cramps affecting any part of the upper body.

If you ignore the symptoms of repetitive strain injury without seeking treatment, then the initial symptoms are likely to worsen and ultimately become more frequent or even constant. Individuals suffering from RSI may end up with swelling in the affected area, which could take several months to alleviate.

It is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you believe you are suffering from repetitive strain injury. Enlisting legal expertise can also help ensure you are financially supported in the form of compensation as you receive the medical attention you require.

Can Anyone Be Affected by Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive strain injuries are caused by the overuse of muscles and tendons within the upper part of the body, meaning that virtually any job role has the potential to facilitate an injury of this kind. Ultimately, it is your employer’s responsibility to safeguard you from any conditions that may give rise to a repetitive strain injury.

People who work in particularly strenuous jobs are most likely to be affected by repetitive strain injuries, however, it can also be experienced by those who spend long periods of time in a particularly uncomfortable or unhealthy position. For example, office workers frequently develop back and neck pain as a result of sitting at a desk all day, particularly if their chair offers minimal support. 

Those working in more physically demanding roles, such as people employed in manual labour, are also very susceptible to experiencing the symptoms of repetitive strain injury. Whilst the condition could strike at any time or within any job role, there are several factors that may increase the risk of it arising.

Repetitive activities, such as continuously typing or moving objects on assembly lines, are a leading cause of RSI. Those who operate machinery as part of their job roles or frequently handle vibrating tools or other heavy duty machinery are also susceptible.

Another common cause of this type of injury is exhibiting poor posture over a long period of time, particularly if your job involves a lot of sitting down. Carrying out any high-intensity task for a prolonged period of time without regular rest or working in poorly designed workspaces will ultimately increase your chances of sustaining a repetitive strain injury. 

What About Diagnosis?

Repetitive strain injury can often cause recurrent symptoms which change in their severity over time, meaning that RSI is not always easy to diagnose. There is no standardised test that medical practitioners will carry out for RSI. However, if you explain your symptoms to your GP, they will examine the cause of the issue.

When consulting a medical professional, they will likely ask if there have been any activities or lifestyle changes which could have brought about your ailment. Make sure to inform your GP if you believe any activities may have caused or worsened the condition.

Your GP may well suggest certain preventative measures which can be taken to prevent the condition from worsening and allow for your body to properly heal. The most obvious way to prevent RSI from getting worse is to simply change your work activity or environment as much as is realistically possible. 

Your employer should take measures to support you in preventing or recovering from RSI. Crucially, they should provide the correct equipment for you to do your job safely and allow you to take regular breaks to relieve the physical strain on your body. 

What Treatment is Available?

The type of treatment you can receive for RSI will depend upon the severity and type of injury you have. Many people find preventative measures such as regular exercise to be very beneficial. Your employer should facilitate this for you where possible.

Different treatments may be necessary in more severe cases. Certain medications such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen may help to alleviate the pain in the short term. Cold packs, elastic supports or a splint may also aid in prevention and recovery. In any case, decisions regarding treatment should always be made alongside a healthcare professional.

Severe cases of RSI may also benefit from physiotherapy in making a full recovery. Qualified physiotherapists can offer advice with regard to posture and offer examples of exercises that can help strengthen muscles and tendons. If none of these treatments are effective, then surgery may be required to get to the root of the problem, for example through correcting specific problems with nerves, tendons or muscles.

Can You Claim for Repetitive Strain Injury?

You may be entitled to compensation if you are suffering or have suffered a repetitive strain injury and believe that your employer is responsible or could have prevented the extent of the injury.

Those who pursue repetitive strain injury claims are protected by law from any unfair treatment or dismissal from an employer. It is also possible to make a claim against a former employer, even if they are no longer in business.

Generally, you will need to make a claim within three years of the date that you realised or discovered that the repetitive strain injury was related to your job or working environment. However, cases involving RSI injury claims are usually stronger if they are brought as early on as possible, as it will generally be more straightforward to supply the relevant evidence.

Personal injury solicitors specialising in this type of claim are well placed to advise you on the best course of action in bringing a successful repetitive injury claim. Offering expert advice, the right legal support can help you pursue a fair settlement that compensates you for the pain you have suffered, as well as any loss of income or medical expenses.

Start Your RSI Claim Today

Have you suffered a repetitive strain injury in the workplace? Smith Partnership's specialist Personal Injury team offer legal advice and representation that can help you secure compensation.

For more information or to start your RSI claim today, get in touch with our team via telephone on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via info@smithpartnership.co.uk or complete our contact form.

Author: 
David Clark

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