If you suffer an injury at work, you may count yourself lucky if you didn’t tear a muscle or break a bone. You may even think that you got out of the incident with only minor injuries.
Unfortunately, the reality is that damage to tendons and ligaments can be severe. They can take far longer to heal, and they very well may still keep you out of work. Tendon injuries can also take place over time, rather than during a specific accident.
Why does the healing process take so long?
The University of Maryland Medical System defines tendons as the soft tissues connecting muscles to bones, which allow joints to move. Symptoms of tendon injuries can include joint or muscle pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising. Because tendons are not stretchy and can be easily injured when under stress, a full recovery can take a long time. These strains are most often seen in the arms and legs.
While rest, ice, medications and exercises can often treat tendon injuries, surgery may be needed in some cases, especially after a tear.
How long will it take?
If you have a broken arm or leg, you may measure the healing time in weeks. A doctor may keep you in a cast for eight weeks, for example. But if you have a tendon sprain or tear, the road to a full recovery may instead take months. Especially following a tear that requires surgery, it may take as long as 18 months before you’re really going to feel like your body is healed and fully functioning again.
What about tendinitis?
Tendinitis is a common condition often caused by overuse to the tendons, commonly around the shoulders, wrists, knees and heels. Because tendinitis occurs over time often due to repetitive motions, the extent of the damage done can be unknown until it reaches a certain point where performing the motion becomes unbearable. Work requiring repetitive motions in a physical labor setting, like gardening or factory work, can lead to these injuries, as can office work requiring typing on a keyboard for hours on end.
Tendon injuries of all sorts, from sprains to tears to tendinitis, can lead to lost time at work to properly treat and recover from the condition. Depending on the extent of the injury, medical expenses such as physical therapy, frequent doctor’s visits and surgery can add up quickly. Injured workers should ensure they understand all legal options available to them in seeking workers’ compensation for a tendon injury they believe is caused by their work.