A number of the physicians at Cary Orthopaedics specialize in treating orthopaedic injuries that involve workers’ compensation claims. We have an efficient process in place to provide quality patient care for workers while coordinating with employers to satisfy their workers’ compensation insurance requirements.

The best way to deal with workplace injuries is to avoid them in the first place. In the event an injury does occur, it is important to report it to your human resources department and seek proper treatment.

Here are the most common orthopaedic-related on-the-job injuries and helpful hints on how to prevent them:

Orthopaedic injuries are the most common and most costly workplace injury in America

In 2015, injuries involving sprains, strains or tears accounted for 37% of the total workplace injuries that required days off from work to recuperate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks that down with data from 2012 showing that of the nearly 450,000 sprain, strain and tear cases reported, 63% were the result of “overexertion and bodily reaction.” The majority of these on-the-job injuries were to the back (36%), followed by shoulder injuries (13%) and knee injuries (12%).

Furthermore, data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons indicates that some 25 million people lose an average of 7 days of work annually due to back pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome, an injury of the wrist due to repetitive motion, is another orthopaedic condition that is often attributed to job function.

According to OSHA, all told, work-related musculoskeletal disorders cost employers an estimated $15 to $18 billion each year in direct costs.

Orthopaedic Workplace Injury Causes

Percent distribution for occupational injuries and illnesses with days away from work by selected nature of injury or illness, 2015

Overexertion injuries

Overexertion injuries, which are the most common workplace injury, can occur when you push your body past its physical limits. Overexertion injuries are the second leading cause of missed work – just after the common cold. Back injuries are most commonly reported.

Overexertion injuries come from lifting, pulling, holding, carrying, throwing or pushing. Many companies that require this type of physical work have on-the-job training and education to help employees perform these functions in the safest way possible. Follow employer guidelines and safety standards to prevent overexertion. We offer these additional tips:

  • Use proper lifting techniques
  • Lift lighter loads
  • Take breaks from challenging tasks
  • Use appropriate posture
  • Lower the distance you have to stretch to lift a heavy object
  • Add stretching and strength training to your exercise regime
  • Know your body’s limits and stop work when necessary
  • Report any injury to your supervisor or human resources department

Overexertion injuries can be acute, and they must be treated before returning to the task that caused the injury. Rest, heat or ice and anti-inflammatory medicine can help ease the pain. See your orthopaedic spine physician or general orthopaedist for treatment of more severe or chronic injuries.

Repetitive motion injuries

Repetitive motion injuries are a very common workplace injury for many adults. Continued repetitive motions such as keyboard typing or assembly line work can cause strains on the muscles and tendons in the hands and wrists. This can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, which can become a long-term issue if left untreated. Although this type of injury can be less apparent in the beginning, it can become painful and worsen over time.

Use these tips to prevent carpal tunnel from happening or keep it from getting worse:

  • Take periodic breaks from repetitive motion work
  • Set an alarm every few hours to take a 2 to 3-minute break
  • Pay attention to correct form when typing or working with machinery
  • Practice proper spinal posture
  • Perform hand and wrist exercises
  • Report any injury to your supervisor or human resources department
  • See your orthopaedic doctor to see if a wrist or hand brace would be appropriate for you to wear while working

See an orthopaedic specialist if hand and wrist pain continue. Seeking treatment sooner rather than later will help prevent the injury from becoming chronic.

Reaction injuries

Reaction injuries – caused by slipping, tripping, sitting, bending or reaching – are common in the workplace. This type of injury may seem minimal but can become an issue if ignored. The injury can also be prolonged with repetitive motion. A sudden reaction can cause a number of orthopaedic injuries, such as a meniscus tear when the knee is twisted in an unnatural position, a strained neck or a pulled back muscle. To prevent reaction injuries in the workplace, keep these tips in mind while on the job:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings at all times
  • Maintain a clean and tidy work area
  • Put all tools back in their proper place after use
  • Avoid awkward body positioning and bad posture
  • Use non-slip floor coverings

Workers’ compensation for orthopaedic injuries

If a workplace injury does occur, workers’ comp may be provided by your employer depending on the injury and the cause. When an injury occurs, report it to your employer immediately.

In order to file a workers’ comp claim, you must be evaluated by a medical professional. Your employer or their insurance company will advise you on where to receive a medical evaluation. If you seek to use a physician other than who your employer specifies, your workers’ comp case manager must approve of the physician before the evaluation can be completed and accepted.

Once workers’ comp is approved, payments are made weekly. Workers receive 66% of their weekly salary until they are able to return to work.

Experienced workers’ comp orthopaedic physicians

If you or a loved one have experienced an injury in the workplace, seek medical help immediately. Cary Orthopaedics’ specialists have years of experience treating orthopaedic workplace injuries, providing the highest quality care. We have close relationships with workers’ comp case managers and can help guide you through the compensation process.

If you are interested in seeing one of our physicians for a workers’ comp claim, please have your case manager contact us directly. If you would like an injury evaluation not related to workers’ comp, please schedule an appointment today at any of our orthopaedic locations. We also take orthopaedic walk-in appointments at our Morrisville and Holly Springs offices.