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What You Need to Know About Work-Related Bursitis and Options for Workers’ Compensation

Medical diagnosis of bursitis is noted on a clipboardDespite the fact that there are around 160 bursae in the human body, many people have no clue what they do or why they’re there—that is, until they become painfully inflamed.

Bursae are essentially fluid-filled sacs between the joints. They cushion your bones, muscles, and tendons and allow the joints to flex and pivot properly. These sacs also provide lubrication to the joints to decrease friction and irritation. However, when these cushions become overworked, they can swell, causing painful joint inflammation—which can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), depending on the amount of damage done to the bursae. This inflammation and subsequent pain is known as bursitis.

Although bursitis can be caused by a sudden trauma to a joint, it is most often the direct result of repetitive motion and overwork injuries caused by work-related duties.

Bursitis Risks

Workers who face the most risk of developing bursitis are those who constantly repeat the same strenuous motions over and over again. Carpenters, factory and construction workers, and secretaries are all high risk. However, any career that requires you to make repetitive motions over a long period of time can irritate the bursae around your joints. If not treated, the irritation can lead to bursitis, and potentially put you out of commission for several weeks, or even months.

Septic bursitis is much more dangerous form of bursitis. This condition involves a puncture to the bursae, allowing bacteria to enter and reproduce. The resulting infection may then spread to the joints, muscles, tendons, and into the bloodstream. The three main areas of the body most susceptible to bursae punctures are the knuckles, elbows, and knees, as they are the joints that protrude the most.

Bursitis Treatments

Since the bursae is located in between the joints, treatment options to control inflammation are somewhat limited. The best thing to do to relieve pain and swelling is to refrain from any actions that may put pressure or strain on the area. In other words: you need to rest the area.

Other treatments for bursitis can include:

  • Anti-inflammatory pain medication. Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce swelling and curb pain.
  • Steroid injections. Chronic bursitis may require stronger medication injected directly into the site of the inflammation. Steroids can be used to reduce inflammation to a large degree; unfortunately, this treatment isn’t a permanent cure.
  • Physical therapy. PT can be useful to prevent tendons and muscles from seizing around the painful bursae. It can also help teach you ways to continue doing your job without irritating your joints.

Bursitis is not something that you should try to deal with on your own. If you notice inflammation or pain in your joints, seek a diagnosis and treatment plan right away. By delaying your treatment, you could potentially increase the need for a longer work absence and recovery, which could affect your workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Compensation Options

When a repetitive stress injury is the direct result of prolonged workplace duties or injuries, it is a legitimate cause for a workers’ compensation claim. After all, your recovery will require a sufficient amount of time off to rest and heal before you’re able to return to your active duties. Your workers’ compensation benefits can include the following:

  • Replacement income.
  • Rehabilitation costs (physical therapy).
  • Medical expenses, including diagnostic imaging.
  • Temporary or long-term disability compensation.

In order to receive these benefits, you must first prove that your bursitis is indeed work-related. In other words, to make a successful claim, you must be able to prove that the condition occurred as a direct result of your duties. It falls to you, the injured employee, to gather sufficient medical and personal information that can be used as evidence for your claim.

Be sure to discuss the condition in detail with your physician and have him verify that the bursitis was indeed caused or worsened by repetitive motion. You may also want to explain your work duties so that he can have a better understanding of the injury. With this information, he can provide a professional opinion on how and why the injury occurred and how it should be treated to help verify your claim.

As always, when it comes to workers’ compensation you should also seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure all of your rights are being upheld. Contact our office today to schedule your FREE consultation.

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Steven M. Lee
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