What Is a Cumulative Trauma Disorder?


Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), also called repetitive strain injuries, are some of the most reported types of occupational injuries. These types of injuries affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. CTDs are typically caused by a combination of the following:

  • Repetitive Motions
  • Awkward Posture
  • Mental Stress
  • Forceful Exertion
  • Static Postures
  • Mechanical Compression of Soft Tissue
  • Fast Movement of Body Parts
  • Vibration
  • Lack of Sufficient Recovery Time

Disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist tendonitis, ulnar nerve entrapment, epicondylitis, shoulder tendonitis, and hand-arm vibration syndrome are all examples of cumulative trauma disorders. People with a cumulative trauma disorder experience pain and swelling in affected areas after performing their work duties. Back injuries can also be caused by similar risk factors, though these injuries have been excluded from the definition of CTDs.

Examples of CTDs

  • Tendon Disorders: Dull aching sensations over the tendons, tenderness to the touch, discomfort with certain movements and sometimes disabling pain are all symptoms of tendon disorders. Commonly affected areas include the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Rest and sufficient recovery time is need to avoid permanent damage from this kind of CTD.
  • Nerve Disorders: Carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, and Raynaud’s syndrome are examples of nerve disorders. These are often caused by pressure that is placed on the nerves from repeated use of tools or contact with hard edges or ridges of various work surfaces.

How Can I Prevent CTDs?

  • Evaluate your work station and think about the ways in which you use tools and other equipment to complete your job duties.
  • Educate yourself about the risk factors associated with your job duties.
  • Take regular breaks if you continuously perform repetitive work and rotate tasks.
  • Stretch and exercise body parts that are commonly affected by CTDs.
  • Identify common CTDS and discuss them with your employer to find possible solutions

Do you have more questions about cumulative trauma disorders? Contact our Glendale team of workers’ compensation attorneys to find out how we can help you today.

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