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Epicondylitis is also known as tennis elbow. It is a painful condition that is caused when the elbow is overused and the tendons that link the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow become inflamed. Although it is associated with racquet sports (which is why it is known as tennis elbow), it also can be caused by work. If you suffer epicondylitis due to your job, it is important to consult a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney about the possibility of obtaining benefits. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we are ready to advise and advocate for you.

Work Injuries Related to Epicondylitis

An elbow joint is composed of the upper arm bone or humerus, as well as the radius and ulna. The joint is bound together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. On the bottom of the humerus are bumps known as epicondyles. Repetitive stress to the muscles and tendons of the forearm can result in epicondylitis. The muscle that helps stabilize the wrist can become weak from overuse, and microscopic tears may form in the tendon where it links to the lateral epicondyle, resulting in inflammation as well as severe pain.

Jobs in which workers are more likely to develop epicondylitis include carpentry, construction, painting, plumbing, cooking, automobile work, and butchery. Generally, lifting heavy items and moving repetitively increase the risk of epicondylitis. Often, the pain starts out mild and worsens in intensity, eventually resulting in a weaker grip and burning or pain on the outer side of the elbow. These symptoms may be made worse by the work that caused them, such as turning a wrench.

Doctors can diagnose tennis elbow based partly on occupational risk factors. The doctor may ask a worker to straighten his elbow and fingers against resistance with his arm fully straight and report on the degree of pain. Additional tests may be ordered, such as X-rays, electromyography (EMG) imaging, and MRI scans. Sometimes there is arthritis in addition to a repetitive stress injury.

Most people with epicondylitis get better without surgery. Among other things, a doctor may order rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, a brace, and steroid injections. However, if symptoms do not improve after a year of nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be recommended. In the surgery, diseased muscle may be removed, while healthy muscle will be reattached to the bone. Surgeries may be open or arthroscopic. There are risks associated with surgery, such as infections, loss of flexibility, and loss of strength, and usually it is important to discuss the matter in detail with your doctor. After surgery, rehabilitation may be recommended.

If you suffer from job-related epicondylitis, our attorneys may be able to help you obtain benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, which eliminated a lot of the defenses that employers used to deploy to avoid paying injured workers before the law was enacted. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to be paid regardless of fault when an employee is injured at work. Your benefits cannot be reduced if you are partially or fully to blame for the injury. However, you do bear the burden of showing that your work caused the injury.

It can be challenging to establish that repetitive injuries are job-related. It is easier to show that an acute trauma, such as burns from an explosion or broken bones from a fall, is work-related because in many cases an employer’s agent witnesses the traumatic event. Generally, you should give the employer notice of an injury within 45 days of the accident. Once an employer learns that you have been injured, it is supposed to inform its insurer of the injury. If you cannot work for more than three scheduled working days, the employer is required to report your injury to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you are allowed to choose any doctor or hospital at your employer’s expense. But you are limited in how many doctors you can choose. In Illinois, you are allowed to choose any emergency service as well as two treating doctors or hospitals. After that, you need to get your employer’s approval before going to another doctor.

Hire an Experienced Chicago Attorney for a Job Injury Claim

If you developed epicondylitis for job-related reasons, you should speak to a tenacious workers’ compensation lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent injured workers in Chicago, Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other cities in Adams, Winnebago, Champaign, Sangamon, Kane, and Cook Counties. You can call us at 312-724-5846 for a free consultation.