These Are the Common Elbow Injuries Workers Face
November 19th, 2020
Even though society has developed from an agrarian one to a more technologically developed one, workplace injuries are still as common as they were back in the labor-intensive days.
This is due to the highly repetitive tasks that workers undertake, and the unsuitable, non-ergonomic conditions that they are undertaken in.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2019, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, which includes elbow injuries. This is unchanged from 2018.
But the incidence rate of workplace injuries is still high enough to matter – 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers (FTE).
Read on to see what the most common elbow injuries are and how to recognize some elbow injury symptoms.
Repetitive Stress Injury
When you have a highly repetitive job, for example, hammering, throwing baseballs/footballs, demolitions, etc., this causes your bodily systems great physical stress. If you work around or with heavy machinery, that stresses your joints as well.
If you had enough time between tasks to recover, your body would be able to heal the micro-tears in your ligaments and tendons. But what happens in our high-stress, fast-paced work, and home environments, is that we don’t get this recovery time.
We keep on putting a physical burden upon our joints, ligaments, and tendons. This causes them to breakdown, as they are unable to sustain the injury for too long. They might recover a bit if we take a couple of days off, but then we are back at it again!
Repetitive stress injuries are hard to fix, because the main issue here is that you keep on going back to a job that causes stress in the first place. These kinds of injuries aren’t only affecting blue-collar workers, but office workers as well.
Sitting at a desk, and typing away for hours on end, without adequate stretching, causes your shoulders, elbows, and ankles to deteriorate.
Bursitis is caused by repetitive motions or positions that put an inordinate amount of stress on the elbow joints.
This could be something like throwing a baseball repeatedly, sitting while leaning on your elbow for a long time, or scrubbing the floors or laying down carpet.
It’s the repetitive action that causes injury or trauma to the elbows. And this shows up as swollen, red, or painful elbow joints, inflammation, stiffness, and pain when you move the elbow.
The main way to heal Bursitis is to give it time to heal, to rest, but this is something a lot of workers cannot afford to do. Elbow injuries start small, but then as time goes on, and you keep on putting trauma on the elbow, it gets worse and worse.
It’s time to go see a doctor when you have sharp shooting pains in your elbow, your disabling joint pain, or it’s excessively swollen, red, or inflamed. It’s better to be safe than sorry in such cases.
Also, it’s a great idea to go to the doctor and keep records of your elbow injuries, in case you have to apply for worker’s compensation later. Proper documentation will ensure your claim gets approved quicker and without much hassle.
Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow
Golfer’s Elbow is a condition when you feel pain where the tendons of your forearm connect to the bony part of your inner elbow. Tennis Elbow is almost the same, but the pain occurs on the outside of your elbow.
These are both caused by repetitive stress to your elbow joint. As the name implies, they were initially noticed in golf and tennis players. Their repetitive swinging action of the arms, to hit the golf ball or the tennis ball, causes these in players.
If you clench your fingers tight, this can cause your elbow to feel sore as well. The entire network of fingers, wrist, forearm, and elbow is tightly interconnected.
Some elbow injury symptoms to watch out for are pain or tenderness on the inside or outside of the elbow, numbness or tingling in the fingers, stiffness in the elbows, or weakness in the hands or wrists.
If you are having a hard time holding even a pencil to write something down, it’s time for you to go visit a doctor. Also, go see a doctor, if your elbow starts looking deformed, red, or swollen, or if you can’t bend it anymore.
Of course, sports players who have repetitive actions will get these elbow injuries – but also construction workers, plumbers, and carpenters, who are constantly using their hands, elbows, and wrists to do repetitive actions, like hammering, and more.
If you cannot avoid the repetitive action completely by finding a new occupation or moving to a more ergonomic situation, then it’s time for you to take some preventative measures.
Start working on your forearm muscles, by strengthening them. Squeeze a tennis ball while you watch television or do some lightweight training.
Also, start stretching your arms, wrists, and shoulders before you start your workday and your repetitive actions. This way your joints and tendons will have some solace before you start stressing them.
If you are the kind of person who slouches when they sit at their desk or don’t lift heavy items by bending your hips or knees, then you need to work on your form. Proper form during work hours can mean the difference between having elbow injuries or not.
Finally, you need to learn to rest your joints and allow them time to recover and recuperate. You are not a machine – you are a biological being that needs time to rest and relax.
Elbow Injuries Are Common in Jobs With Repetitive Actions
If you have an office job, you might be thinking that you don’t have to worry about elbow injuries. But if you spend all your days with your elbows resting on your chair’s armrests, you need to rethink your sitting form.
Elbow injuries are preventable. Take the proper measures to avoid getting injured in your workplace.
If you would like to set up an appointment for an upper extremity occupational therapy session in the Queens and Bronx region, please check out our website.