We have all heard the expression, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. For biomechanists, it is a simple way to describe a minor event, which results in an unexpected injury. Unfortunately, the concept of a trivial event being responsible for an unexpected injury has been accepted by far too many intelligent people and has led to poor determinations of cause and effect in the insurance and legal industries. However, with a basic understanding of injury, there is some valuable knowledge contained within this expression.

The article explores the cause and effect of injuries – and the misconception that small events can cause serious injury. Most of the time, the real cause of a serious injury is due to progressive weakening. This is referred to as a fatigue related injury. Using our example, if the camel’s spine was already weakening because of too much work and not enough rest. The injury was therefore predictable. The article also discusses the examples of rotator cuff injuries and disc herniation.

Finally, the legal question of understanding a fatigue related injury in the context of individuals who are already in the process of advancing their injury are already in a very unstable state is explored.