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Repetitive Motion Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Read­ing Time: 6 min­utes

Last Updat­ed on May 22, 2023 

Learn about com­mon repet­i­tive motion injuries (RMIs) such as carpal tun­nel syn­drome, ten­dini­tis, and bur­si­tis in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. Dis­cov­er the caus­es, symp­toms, and effec­tive pre­ven­tion strate­gies to ensure the well-being and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of work­ers. Imple­ment­ing ergonom­ic prac­tices, train­ing, and prop­er med­ical care can help mit­i­gate the risks asso­ci­at­ed with RMIs and cre­ate a safer work environment.

Some of the most com­mon RMIs in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs include:

  • Carpal tun­nel syn­drome: This is a con­di­tion that affects the wrist and hand. It is caused by pres­sure on the medi­an nerve, which runs through the wrist. Carpal tun­nel syn­drome can cause pain, numb­ness, and tin­gling in the hand and fingers.
  • Ten­dini­tis: This is an inflam­ma­tion of the ten­dons. Ten­dons are the tis­sues that con­nect mus­cles to bones. Ten­dini­tis can cause pain, swelling, and stiff­ness in the affect­ed area.
  • Bur­si­tis: This is an inflam­ma­tion of the bur­sae. Bur­sae are small sacs of flu­id that cush­ion joints. Bur­si­tis can cause pain, swelling, and red­ness in the affect­ed area.

Understanding Repetitive Motion Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention in Manufacturing Jobs

Repet­i­tive motion injuries (RMIs) are a com­mon type of occu­pa­tion­al injury that occurs when the same mus­cles and ten­dons are used repeat­ed­ly over time. These injuries often affect work­ers in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, where repet­i­tive tasks are per­formed day in and day out. RMIs can lead to pain, inflam­ma­tion, and dam­age to the mus­cles and ten­dons, affect­ing the over­all well-being and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of workers.

Common Repetitive Motion Injuries in Manufacturing Jobs

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most preva­lent RMIs among man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers is carpal tun­nel syn­drome. This con­di­tion affects the wrist and hand and is caused by pres­sure on the medi­an nerve, which runs through the wrist. Work­ers who fre­quent­ly per­form tasks that involve repet­i­tive hand move­ments, such as assem­bly line work or typ­ing, are at a high­er risk of devel­op­ing carpal tun­nel syn­drome. Symp­toms include pain, numb­ness, and tin­gling in the hand and fingers.


Ten­dini­tis is anoth­er fre­quent RMI in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. It occurs when ten­dons, which con­nect mus­cles to bones, become inflamed. Work­ers who repeat­ed­ly per­form tasks that strain spe­cif­ic ten­dons are sus­cep­ti­ble to ten­dini­tis. Com­mon sites for ten­dini­tis in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs include the shoul­ders, elbows, and knees. Symp­toms of ten­dini­tis include pain, swelling, and stiff­ness in the affect­ed area.


Bur­si­tis is an inflam­ma­tion of the bur­sae, small sacs of flu­id that cush­ion joints. In man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, bur­si­tis often affects work­ers who per­form repet­i­tive motions that put stress on spe­cif­ic joints. For instance, kneel­ing or crawl­ing tasks can lead to knee bur­si­tis. Symp­toms of bur­si­tis include pain, swelling, and red­ness in the affect­ed area.

Prevention and Management of RMIs

There are a num­ber of things that can be done to pre­vent RMIs in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, including:

  • Pro­vid­ing ergonom­ic equip­ment, such as key­boards and mouse pads, that can help reduce stress on the mus­cles and tendons.
  • Offer­ing train­ing on how to avoid repet­i­tive motions and how to use prop­er lift­ing techniques.
  • Pro­vid­ing breaks through­out the work­day to allow work­ers to rest their mus­cles and tendons.
  • Mon­i­tor­ing work­ers for signs of RMIs and pro­vid­ing treat­ment if necessary.

Pre­vent­ing RMIs is cru­cial for the well-being of man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers. Here are some strate­gies to min­i­mize the risk of RMIs:

  1. Ergonom­ic Work­sta­tions: Design work­sta­tions that sup­port prop­er body align­ment, allow­ing work­ers to main­tain neu­tral posi­tions while per­form­ing tasks. Ergonom­ic adjust­ments may include adjustable chairs, prop­er light­ing, and ergonom­ic tools.
  2. Fre­quent Breaks and Rota­tion: Encour­age reg­u­lar breaks to rest and recov­er from repet­i­tive tasks. Imple­ment job rota­tion pro­grams that allow work­ers to switch between dif­fer­ent tasks, reduc­ing strain on spe­cif­ic mus­cle groups.
  3. Stretch­ing and Exer­cise: Pro­mote stretch­ing exer­cis­es before and dur­ing work to warm up mus­cles and increase flex­i­bil­i­ty. Encour­age work­ers to engage in reg­u­lar phys­i­cal exer­cise to strength­en mus­cles and improve over­all fitness.
  4. Prop­er Tech­nique and Train­ing: Pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive train­ing on prop­er body mechan­ics and tech­niques to min­i­mize strain dur­ing repet­i­tive tasks. Edu­cate work­ers on the impor­tance of using equip­ment cor­rect­ly and main­tain­ing good posture.
  5. Use of Assis­tive Devices: Imple­ment ergonom­ic tools and assis­tive devices that reduce the strain on mus­cles and ten­dons. Exam­ples include ergonom­ic key­boards, wrist sup­ports, and lift­ing aids.
  6. Reg­u­lar Assess­ments and Feed­back: Con­duct reg­u­lar assess­ments of work­sta­tions and tasks to iden­ti­fy poten­tial risks and make nec­es­sary improve­ments. Encour­age work­ers to pro­vide feed­back on dis­com­fort or pain they expe­ri­ence, and take prompt action to address the concerns.
  7. Health and Well­ness Pro­grams: Estab­lish health and well­ness pro­grams that pro­mote over­all well-being. These pro­grams can include activ­i­ties such as yoga or mind­ful­ness ses­sions to reduce stress and enhance phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

Seeking Medical Help

If a work­er expe­ri­ences per­sis­tent pain, dis­com­fort, or symp­toms of an RMI, it is essen­tial to seek med­ical atten­tion prompt­ly. Ear­ly diag­no­sis and treat­ment can pre­vent fur­ther dam­age and ensure a time­ly recov­ery. A health­care pro­fes­sion­al, such as a doc­tor or occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pist, can pro­vide a prop­er diag­no­sis and rec­om­mend appro­pri­ate treat­ment options.

Treat­ment for RMIs may include:

  1. Rest and Immo­bi­liza­tion: Rest­ing the affect­ed area and immo­bi­liz­ing it with a brace or splint can help alle­vi­ate symp­toms and pro­mote healing.
  2. Phys­i­cal Ther­a­py: A phys­i­cal ther­a­pist can design exer­cis­es and stretch­es to improve flex­i­bil­i­ty, strength­en mus­cles, and reduce pain. They may also use tech­niques like mas­sage and ultra­sound ther­a­py to pro­mote healing.
  3. Med­ica­tions: Non­s­teroidal anti-inflam­ma­to­ry drugs (NSAIDs) or cor­ti­cos­teroid injec­tions may be pre­scribed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  4. Occu­pa­tion­al Mod­i­fi­ca­tions: In some cas­es, mod­i­fy­ing work tasks or using ergonom­ic tools and equip­ment may be nec­es­sary to pre­vent fur­ther injury and pro­mote recovery.
  5. Surgery: In severe cas­es that do not respond to con­ser­v­a­tive treat­ments, sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tion may be required. Pro­ce­dures such as carpal tun­nel release or ten­don repair may be per­formed to alle­vi­ate symp­toms and restore function.

Long-Term Outlook and Prevention

Pre­vent­ing RMIs is essen­tial for both employ­ers and employ­ees. By imple­ment­ing proac­tive mea­sures, the risk of these injuries can be sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced, pro­mot­ing a safer and health­i­er work envi­ron­ment. Here are some addi­tion­al tips for pre­vent­ing RMIs:

  • Encour­age employ­ees to take reg­u­lar breaks and engage in stretch­ing exer­cis­es to reduce mus­cle fatigue.
  • Pro­mote a cul­ture of safe­ty aware­ness and edu­cate work­ers about the impor­tance of prop­er pos­ture and body mechanics.
  • Pro­vide ongo­ing train­ing and refresh­er cours­es on ergonom­ic prac­tices and injury prevention.
  • Con­duct reg­u­lar ergonom­ic assess­ments of work­sta­tions and make nec­es­sary adjust­ments to opti­mize employ­ee com­fort and safety.
  • Fos­ter open com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels for work­ers to report dis­com­fort or poten­tial risk factors.
  • Encour­age a healthy work-life bal­ance, as ade­quate rest and recov­ery play a cru­cial role in pre­vent­ing RMIs.

Here are some addi­tion­al tips for pre­vent­ing RMIs in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs:

  • Take breaks often. Get up and move around every 20–30 min­utes to give your mus­cles and joints a break.
  • Use prop­er lift­ing tech­niques. When lift­ing heavy objects, bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Take care of your hands. Wear gloves when work­ing with sharp objects or chemicals.
  • Lis­ten to your body. If you’re feel­ing pain, stop what you’re doing and rest.

By pri­or­i­tiz­ing employ­ee well-being and imple­ment­ing pre­ven­tive mea­sures, com­pa­nies can sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the inci­dence of RMIs and cre­ate a more pro­duc­tive and sus­tain­able work environment.

RIMS and Workers Comp

Employ­ees suf­fer­ing from RIMs relat­ed issues in man­u­fac­tur­ing should seek med­ical and legal help as soon as pos­si­ble. Med­ical help can help to diag­nose the con­di­tion and pro­vide treat­ment, while legal help can help to ensure that the employ­ee receives com­pen­sa­tion for their injuries.

To get med­ical help, employ­ees should see a doc­tor or oth­er health­care provider. The doc­tor will be able to diag­nose the con­di­tion and rec­om­mend treat­ment options. Treat­ment for RIMs may include rest, phys­i­cal ther­a­py, or surgery.

To get legal help, employ­ees should con­tact an attor­ney who spe­cial­izes in work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion law. The attor­ney can help the employ­ee file a work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion claim and can rep­re­sent the employ­ee in court if necessary.

Here are some addi­tion­al tips for employ­ees who are suf­fer­ing from RIMs relat­ed issues in manufacturing:

  • Keep a record of your symp­toms. This will help the doc­tor to diag­nose your con­di­tion and will also help the attor­ney to build your case.
  • Keep a record of your work activ­i­ties. This will help to show that your injuries were caused by your work.
  • Talk to your employ­er about your injuries. Your employ­er may be able to pro­vide you with accom­mo­da­tions that will help you to con­tin­ue working.
  • Con­tact your state’s work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion agency. The agency can pro­vide you with infor­ma­tion about work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion ben­e­fits and can help you to file a claim.

By fol­low­ing these tips, employ­ees can help to ensure that they receive the med­ical and legal help that they need.

RIMs and Lawyers Help for Workplace Injuries

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing RIMs, you may want to con­sid­er con­tact­ing an attor­ney for help. An attor­ney can help you under­stand your rights and options under work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion law. They can also help you file a claim and rep­re­sent you in court if necessary.

Here are some things to keep in mind when con­tact­ing an attor­ney for help with RIMs:

  • Make sure the attor­ney is expe­ri­enced in work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion law.
  • Ask about the attor­ney’s fees and how they are paid.
  • Be sure to get every­thing in writ­ing, includ­ing the attor­ney’s fees and any agree­ments you make.

Once you have found an attor­ney, you should sched­ule con­sul­ta­tions with them to dis­cuss your case. This will give you a chance to learn more about the attor­ney’s expe­ri­ence and how they can help you.

If you have ques­tions about RIMs, call us today and one of our local Work­ers Comp Lawyers will offer FREE con­sult and answer your ques­tions, with no obligation.


Repet­i­tive motion injuries pose a sig­nif­i­cant risk to work­ers in man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. The con­sis­tent rep­e­ti­tion of tasks can lead to painful con­di­tions such as carpal tun­nel syn­drome, ten­dini­tis, and bur­si­tis. How­ev­er, with prop­er pre­ven­tion strate­gies and prompt med­ical inter­ven­tion, the impact of these injuries can be minimized.

Employ­ers should focus on cre­at­ing ergonom­ic work­sta­tions, pro­vid­ing train­ing, pro­mot­ing reg­u­lar breaks and exer­cise, and fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of safe­ty. Employ­ees, on the oth­er hand, should be proac­tive in report­ing any dis­com­fort or symp­toms and seek­ing time­ly med­ical attention.

By work­ing togeth­er, employ­ers and employ­ees can mit­i­gate the risks asso­ci­at­ed with repet­i­tive motion injuries and ensure a health­i­er and safer work envi­ron­ment for all.