Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Workers' compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome

With the rise of technology in the workplace and everyday lives, there has been an increase in the number of cases of carpel tunnel syndrome.  Carpal tunnel can not only be painful but can often lead to difficulty in going about everyday activities or work related job functions.

What is carpal tunnel?

From the palm of your hand up through your arm, there is a large nerve that helps with much of the function and feeling in your hand.  This nerve is enclosed in the carpel tunnel area which is made up of the bones and ligaments. This tunnel not only protects this large nerve but the tendons that give you movement in your fingers as well.  If you have carpel tunnel syndrome, this area has become bent or is becoming squeezed by swelling or inflammation surrounding it. 

What symptoms will you experience with carpel tunnel?

Symptoms of carpal tunnel can be very painful and will tend to get worse with repeated use of the fingers and wrists.  Some of the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Pain in the hand or fingers that radiates up the arm
  • Difficulty or weakness with grip or pincer grasp
  • Burning or numbness
  • Repeated dropping of objects
  • Loss of dexterity in the hands or fingers

What can cause carpel tunnel?

There are many causes of carpal tunnel.  While some are due to sudden changes such as pregnancy, injury, or problems with the working mechanisms in the joint, most of the causes tend to be related to work most often by using tools with vibration or repetitive motion tasks.

  • Repeated use of tools that produce vibration - The repeated vibration can lead to swelling of the hand, joints and ligaments due to the constant motion.
  • Repetitive motion trauma - Repeated use of the fingers, wrist, and hands is one of the most common links to carpel tunnel.

Are some occupations more likely to put you at risk for carpal tunnel?

Many occupations that involve extensive use of the hands and fingers and repetitive motion such as typing have higher instance rates of carpal tunnel syndrome among their employees.  Some of the most common occupations linked to a carpal tunnel diagnosis are:

  • Data entry 
  • Sewing
  • Painting
  • Agricultural work
  • Musicians
  • Cashiers
  • Assembly line work
  • Janitorial
  • Packing
  • Automotive

Treatment options for workers compensation

Depending on the severity and length of time since you were diagnosed with carpel tunnel, your doctor may recommend one or all of the treatment options below.

  • Bracing - The doctor may require you to wear a specially designed brace to wear during the day or even at night.
  • Prescription medications - Medications can be used to treat pain or to reduce the inflammation that is putting the pressure on the nerve.
  • Surgery - Surgery can be used to treat the problem either by opening up the actual area of the carpel tunnel or by cutting the carpal ligament.

Should you file a workers compensation claim if you have carpel tunnel syndrome?

There are many costs associated with the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Your doctor may advise rest, therapy, or surgery to correct the situation, which can not only lead to costly medical bills but also time off of work.

Many states's are now recognizing carpel tunnel syndrome as a valid workers compensation claim.  Many employees who are required to do repetitive motion tasks and end up developing carpel tunnel may have grounds to file a workers compensation claim, even if you are no longer employed with the company.  

The symptoms of carpel tunnel can sometimes take months or even years to diagnose as many sufferers will try to brush off the initial pains as just symptoms of over work.  Since diagnosis can be delayed, you are still able to file a worker's compensation claim with the former employer where the injury was sustained.

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
Fax: 412-391-7453
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