Common Repetitive Stress Injuries in Construction, and How to Avoid Them

Repetitive stress injuries are fairly common in construction. When you spend a lot of time repeating the same physical tasks over and over, you’re at higher risk. But once you get the injury, it can be tricky to heal and avoid making it worse. Here are a few of the most common types for people who work in construction, and how you can reduce your risk of ending up with one.

Tendonitis is one of the most common signs of a repetitive stress injury. Different forms of tendonitis often have names associated with certain sports that require a movement repeated over and over. For example, tennis elbow is a type of tendonitis that occurs on the outside of your elbow. Golfer’s elbow, on the other hand, refers to the tendon running along the underside of your elbow. You’ve got tendons everywhere, and any task that causes repeated stretching of those tendons can lead to temporary or long-term damage.

Nerve Issues
The way that you put pressure on your joints can trigger nerve problems. These don’t necessarily involve permanent nerve damage but in some cases, they do. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition where pressure on the wrists and hands leads to pain, tingling, and loss of feeling in the hands and fingers. Cubital tunnel syndrome creates similar feelings in the hands and arms, starting with the elbows. If you’re holding your arm at a 90-degree angle for very long periods of time, you may trigger this condition.

Other nerve conditions relate specifically to types of work common in construction. Hand-arm vibration syndrome, for example, is practically exclusive to construction work. If you work with equipment that vibrates most of the day, every day, you may eventually develop symptoms of this condition. Common signs include muscle aches, tingling or loss of feeling in the arms.

Your joints have little pockets of fluid that help to cushion your joints for impact. These pockets are called bursae. If you engage in activities that put constant pressure on them, they may swell and become painful, which is called bursitis. People are more likely to get bursitis in bigger joints like the shoulder or hip. In most cases, bursitis happens after holding a particular position for long periods of time. For example, if you kneel for hours a day, you may develop bursitis in one or both hips.

Treating Repetitive Stress Injuries
The way to treat repetitive stress injuries depends on the type and the severity. Most of the time, you should start by a visit to a doctor with experience treating these types of conditions, like a sports medicine doctor. They may recommend that you rest the affected joint, which may require some rearranging if the task is one you do every day. Pain-relief components like ice, heat, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may help. Once your condition is starting to improve, you will likely need physical therapy to help rebuild use of the joint without reinjuring it.

Reducing Risk of Injury
Ultimately, your best bet is to avoid creating these injuries in the first place. That may be the most difficult thing since it is so easy to keep going with a task until it is done. Experts recommend that if you want to prevent this type of injury, you should:

  • Change tasks regularly
  • Avoid sitting or standing in the same place for long periods
  • Use pads under your feet or knees
  • Use braces when needed
  • Seek treatment at the first sign of symptoms

As a business owner, you should also encourage your employees to avoid repetitive stress injuries. Making it easy for them to follow healthy practices will help to ensure that they can continue to provide good work into the future.

Repetitive stress injury is a common hazard in construction work, but you may be able to avoid it with these tips. For more information about starting your own contracting business, visit CSLS today!

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Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit and tuned for more informative posts.