Elbow injuries at work usually fall upon a specific type of worker: those who engage in repetitive activities that cause stress to the elbow joint. In terms of how elbow injuries are classified, they are considered part of the arm, and not classified separately the way the wrist or the shoulder is. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that arms accounted for 5% of all injuries that caused workers to be away from work.
The complication with elbow injuries and insurance coverage is that, unlike other injuries that may happen suddenly, elbow injuries often come on gradually, arising from repetitive actions over time. Repetitive activities at work such as hammering, throwing, or working machinery with duplicative motions can cause stress injuries.
For example, one of the commonly occurring stress injuries in the elbow joint is bursitis. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and stiffness. While bursitis rarely requires surgery, it requires rest to heal. Workers may hesitate to take time off work especially if work means reduced pay or if the worker fears repercussions from their workplace. This means that the injury might get progressively worse until the injured worker is forced to take time off work due to pain or lack of mobility that prevents them from doing their work fully.
Even in roles where repetitive action may put a worker at risk for injury, there are ways to prevent or alleviate the daily stress upon the joint. It is important for workers to take time to rest, either during the course of the workday or by being assigned alternative tasks on different days to avoid continuous repetitive stress on the elbow. Workers can also strengthen the muscles in their arm to alleviate some of the pressure on the joint; for example, workers can strengthen their forearms by squeezing a tennis ball, even in a casual way such as when watching television or while commuting. Stretching before beginning work can also help to prevent injuries.
Insurance claims for elbow injuries are sometimes initially denied because it can be difficult to prove that the stress on the elbow occurred in the workplace, or that the injury wasn’t exacerbated by activities outside of work. Once the worker does identify that they may be suffering from an elbow injury, it’s important to:
However, obtaining legal representation can help ensure that you receive all the benefits and compensation that you are owed. O’Connor Law PLLC helps workers within New York City do just that. Our team of workers’ compensation attorneys will guide you through the legal process and inform you of your rights if you injure your elbow while working. Contact our team today for a free consultation on your case and find out what your next steps should be.