Truck drivers have a tough job. They put in long hours and log thousands of miles to transport the materials we need to build homes, highways, and cities. The duties of delivery drivers are equally as demanding. Hauling loads of consumer goods from point A to point B often requires heavy lifting that can cause back pain, shoulder injuries, and muscle strain.
Due to the nature of their jobs, truck and delivery drivers are at risk for a specific set of injuries related to driving and unloading their vehicles. While job-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, a serious accident could leave a driver injured and unable to work for months, years, or even permanently disabled. Knowing what the most common delivery injuries are can help you prevent them from happening in the first place.
COMMON DELIVERY INJURIES
Long-haul truck drivers spend upwards of 10 hours a day behind the wheel. Sitting for extended periods without moving or stretching puts constant pressure on the discs that separate the vertebrae, causing them to become compacted. This can lead to spinal compression, which is most often felt in the lower back. Truck and delivery drivers are also at risk for sciatica, which is caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve that runs down the leg from the lower back. The pain can be so intense that it radiates into the upper back.
Truck and delivery drivers are prone to rotator cuff injuries and shoulder strains. Falling out of a cab and grabbing for the handrail and slipping while walking and reaching out for a fixed object can cause serious injury to the tendons and tissues in the shoulder. Because of the way trucks and highways are designed, many truckers develop a condition known as “trucker’s shoulder.” Trucks are built to automatically drag to the right in case a driver falls asleep. Therefore, drivers have to constantly turn the wheel to the left to keep the truck on the road. This repetitive motion can cause pain in the upper arm and a decrease in flexibility and strength.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Constant turning and gripping of the steering wheel and resting one hand on the vibrating gear shift can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome in truck and delivery drivers. Carpal tunnel causes numbness and tingling in the arm and hand due to pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually begin gradually with tingling or numbness in the hand and fingers, especially in the thumb and index finger. Carpal tunnel syndrome is considered a repetitive stress injury and is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
HOW TO PREVENT DELIVERY INJURIES
Truck and delivery drivers often accept back pain, shoulder pain, and tingling in the arms and hands as a normal part of the job. However, these workers can find relief with a bit of effort. To prevent back pain, drivers should use appropriate equipment to move heavy deliveries and learn the proper ways to bend and lift. To avoid spinal compression, truck and delivery drivers should stretch their backs for two minutes before and two minutes after each trip. Eating a nutritious diet can help truckers maintain a healthy weight, which will relieve pressure from the back.
Likewise, shoulder injuries can be avoided by stretching and making physical activity a part of your daily routine. To prevent trucker’s shoulder, remove your left hand from the steering wheel every 20 minutes for at least 30 seconds to stretch or reach down. Thwart carpal tunnel syndrome by taking breaks whenever possible to give your hands and wrists relief from the vibration of the steering wheel and gear shift. Stretch often, keep your hands warm and seek medical treatment as soon as you experience symptoms to prevent permanent nerve damage.
HAVE YOU SUFFERED A JOB-RELATED INJURY? YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS
If you’re unable to work due to back pain, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or another driving-related injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, we’ve helped countless injured truck and delivery drivers claim payment for medical expenses and missed wages, and we can do the same for you. Call us at (619) 544-1506 to schedule your free consultation.