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What is the difference between chronic and acute injuries?

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

As you get ready to apply for workers’ compensation in North Carolina, you probably wonder how you got hurt in the first place. Sometimes an injury happens because of an obvious accident like a slip and fall. However, many workers suffer injury without an obvious cause. This disparity in how injuries happen illustrates the difference between acute and chronic workplace injuries.

Acute and chronic injuries are terms worth knowing since they help you to understand how a workplace injury occurs in the first place. WebMD provides some information to help you distinguish between the two.

Defining acute injuries

An acute injury happens because of an event, often one that you will not see coming. You may experience an accident like a trip and fall because of a liquid spill, or a tool that falls on your head from high above. You might also become exposed to a toxic gas when a safety valve on a tank fails. Also, a container may crack open and spill out a dangerous chemical on you.

Defining chronic injuries

If a workplace injury seems to emerge out of nowhere, it is likely a chronic injury. These kinds of injuries happen because you perform a task over and over again. Sometimes the task itself causes musculoskeletal harm, but holding an awkward posture as you do your job may also contribute to the injury. Over time, your body accumulates stress until you start to experience chronic pain or disability.

Knowing how workplace injuries happen may help you when you report an injury and apply for workers’ compensation. An acute injury happens due to an accident and is often something you know the cause of. However, if your injury had no apparent origin, think about whether you perform repetitive motion as part of your job. This should help you document how you became injured in the first place.


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