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Workplace Sprains and Strains in New York

You should be fully compensated for any on-the-job injury

As you clock in for work, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of getting hurt. Unfortunately, accidents can occur, and workers suffer the consequences. Work-related strains and sprains may sound like small injuries, but they can have a big impact on an employee’s life.

These injuries can result in physical pain, limitations on daily work and non-work-related activities, and financial stress due to medical expenses and time off from work. As an injured worker, you deserve to be compensated for your strain or sprain. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP understand the stakes are high. That’s why we fight hard for injured New Yorkers.

We know what our clients deserve and need to help them recover from their injuries, and we understand the workers’ compensation system. To learn more about how we can help, contact us for a free case evaluation with an experienced NYC workers comp attorney.

Understanding sprains and strains

A sprain is a type of injury that commonly occurs in ligaments, which are strong bands of tissue connecting bones in joints. When a person suffers a sprain, the ligaments are stretched or torn. A sprain can cause pain, swelling, and potential instability in the affected joint. The ankles, wrists, and knees are most susceptible to sprains.

The severity of a sprain can range depending on the damage to the ligaments. The ligaments in a mild sprain are stretched but not torn, whereas, in a serious sprain, the ligaments are completely ruptured.

Strains are injuries that typically affect muscles or tendons. Muscles are responsible for generating force and allowing movement, while tendons connect muscles to bones. When muscles or tendons are overstretched or torn, a person may suffer a strain. Symptoms include pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, loss of strength, and limited range of motion. Common sites for strains include the back, hamstrings, calves, and shoulders.

Both sprains and strains are types of injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system. Although they have their differences, treatment for both injuries typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with anti-inflammatory medications and rehabilitative exercises to regain strength and flexibility.

Types of sprains and strains

Medical professionals classify sprains and strains into three grades.

Grade 1: Mild

Grade 1 sprains and strains are considered mild, involving minimal tissue damage. In a grade 1 sprain, the ligament is stretched but not torn, and in a grade 1 strain, there is minimal muscle or tendon damage. Individuals with a mild sprain or strain may be able to bear weight and perform daily activities, although some discomfort and pain may be present. Treatment for grade 1 injuries usually involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to aid recovery. Individuals often recover fully in less than a week.

Grade 2: Moderate

Grade 2 sprains and strains involve a partial tear of the ligament, muscle, or tendon. These injuries are characterized by moderate pain, swelling, bruising, and noticeable loss of function. Walking or bearing weight may be difficult, and joint instability may occur. Prompt medical attention is generally required for accurate diagnosis and treatment of grade 2 injuries. The affected area may need to be immobilized. Treatment may involve a combination of RICE, immobilization with braces or splints, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. Grade 2 sprains and strains may take up to six weeks to fully heal.

Grade 3: Severe

Grade 3 sprains and strains are the most severe and involve a complete tear or rupture of the ligament, muscle, or tendon. The pain from this type of injury is intense and the affected area can significantly swell and bruise. Some individuals may suffer complete loss of function. Grade 3 injuries necessitate immediate medical attention, and treatment options may include surgery, immobilization with casts or slings, physical therapy, and long-term rehabilitation. A full recovery may take up to 12 weeks.

How sprains and strains happen in the workplace

Sprains and strains can occur in any workplace. Some common factors and scenarios include:

  • Overworking: Engaging in physically demanding tasks or repetitive motions at work, such as lifting heavy objects, pushing, and pulling, can put stress on muscles and lead to sprains or strains.
  • Slips, trips, and falls: Uneven surfaces, wet floors, cluttered walkways, or poorly maintained work areas can cause employees to slip, trip, or fall, resulting in sprains or strains upon impact.
  • Awkward postures: Maintaining awkward or unnatural body positions for extended periods, such as bending, twisting, or reaching overhead, places excessive stress on the muscles and ligaments, increasing the likelihood of sprains or strains.
  • Insufficient rest breaks: Inadequate rest breaks and prolonged periods of physical activity without sufficient recovery time can lead to muscle fatigue, impairing the body's ability to withstand stress and increasing the risk of injuries.

Preventing sprains and strains

Here are some tips to avoid workplace strains and sprains:

  • Provide training programs on proper body mechanics, lifting techniques, and ergonomics.
  • Warm up and stretch before a physically demanding task.
  • Make sure the surface is stable and level before you lift anything.
  • Change positions at work frequently.
  • Get help if the load is too heavy.
  • Lift at low levels. Carry the load close to the body and bend your knees, not your back.
  • If possible, push over pull.

Can I receive workers' compensation for a sprain or strain?

Employees who suffer a sprain or strain at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. To qualify, you have to prove your sprain or strain occurred at work. First, report it to your employer in writing; then, get immediate medical attention to diagnose the injury.

You deserve workers’ compensation benefits for your sprain or strain. In the aftermath of your work injury, it's crucial to take the necessary steps to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve and to take these steps alone. Seeking help from an experienced workers’ comp attorney can make all the difference in your case.

Whether you're facing challenges in receiving appropriate medical care, or obtaining fair compensation, the workers' compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP are here to help. We provide injured workers in New York with guidance and support. We’ll advocate for your rights and ensure you receive the full benefits you are entitled to.

Don't underestimate the importance of seeking legal representation. If you’ve suffered a sprain or strain at work, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We’re ready to hear from you.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, "Work-Related Sprains and Strains."