Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Workers’ Compensation

It is common to see someone wearing a brace on his or her hand or wrist and immediately assume that person suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).  While everyone has heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, many people do not understand what exactly the condition is and that it is often a work-related injury that may make an employee eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

mgyptbsThe carpal tunnel is an actual tunnel the protects a bundle of nerves running through the wrist and into the hand.  These nerves control the movement and use of the hand.  When a person is required to perform repetitive tasks that involve bending the wrists in unnatural positions, the carpal tunnel can become pinched, and this can result in the condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The symptoms of CTS can involve pain that begins in the wrist and radiates all the way up the victim’s arm, where it can cause neck pain. It can also cause the hand to be weak and hard to use in addition to being very painful.  Many people think that they just have to deal with the pain and then when they go home at night it will be better. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that pain often gets worse throughout the day and can cause a lot of difficulty sleeping, which only makes the situation worse.

What many people may not realize is that if they suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, or suspect they do, they should report it to their employer immediately, and they should seek prompt medical attention. A recent article from the St. Louis Dispatch looks at how a doctor is typically able to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome in a single office visit and can start the patient on a treatment plan, or recommend a hand surgeon who can help.

However, as noted in the article, there is some degree of risk associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, and there have been cases where damage was done when the carpal tunnel syndrome was misdiagnosed and was another type of repetitive stress injury (RSI).  Another thing noted in the article is that the patient should not have surgery based upon a physical examination alone.  In order to confirm a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor should perform a specialized test known as an electromyography (EMG).  The EMG can make sure the patient is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and not something else like a compression of other nerves.

Once you notify your employer and get a diagnosis, you should speak with your Boston workers’ compensation attorney about your rights to a full and appropriate financial recovery.  Another thing to keep in mind is that while many people think CTS is most commonly caused by typing, there are many other repetitive tasks that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, like assembly line work, processing seafood, and retail work.

Many people think they should not report carpal tunnel syndrome to their employer because they are afraid of the repercussions.  According to the law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, your employer is not allowed to take any retaliatory action for filing a valid claim.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Physical exam can diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome, April 19, 2016, St. Louis-Dispatch, Dr. Keith Roach

More Blog Entries:

Scope of Employment in Workers’ Compensation Cases, March 29, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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