Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist resulting in paresthesia (numbness), tingling, pain and other symptoms. The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow passage on the bottom of your hand that protects the nine tendons used when bending your fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is probably more common than you might think. It’s estimated that four to ten million Americans suffer from CTS every year.The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can Help With Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Claim
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys understand that many workers who are experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome choose to ignore the pain and work through it hoping it will go away on its own. It generally does not go away on its own and if you are experiencing symptoms you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your doctor diagnoses you with occupational carpal tunnel syndrome, you should report it to your employer immediately.
One of the most difficult aspects of workers’ compensation claims involving repetitive stress disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, is proving your injury is work-related. The longer you decide to live with your condition and not report it, the harder it could be to prove your case.
In addition to getting prompt medical attention, you should contact an experienced attorney in Massachusetts as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to help you document your claim before submitting it to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. This will maximize your chances of obtaining a full and appropriate workers’ compensation benefits award. It also might be necessary to see additional medical specialists who are more familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome than a primary care physician. Your attorney may be able to assist you with this process as well.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms and Treatments
When the carpal tunnel is compressed, the underlying nerves are also compressed, causing pain, numbness, tingling and weakness of the hand and arm. Some people refer to the sensation as a “pins and needles” feeling. While there are natural causes of CTS related to the anatomy of one’s wrist and other health problems, one of the main causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive patterns of hand use often related to one’s occupation.
For this reason, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classifies CTS as one of the major types of workplace injuries and further classifies CTS as a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
Health factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and gout.
Depending upon the severity of the condition, treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome vary. Generally speaking, workers with mild CTS should rest, take anti-inflammatory drugs, wear a splint and avoid the activity that caused or aggravated the injury. Physical therapy and steroid injections often help. Surgery is recommended in certain cases. According to one online medical database, 90% of patients who undergo surgery experience relief from CTS symptoms.
One thing that’s certain is that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial and can prevent a worker with carpal tunnel syndrome from causing permanent damage to the median nerve. When left untreated, CTS can lead to permanent nerve damage and loss of function.Assembly Line Workers 3 Times More Likely to Develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Additionally, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that carpal tunnel syndrome is not confined to any one work environment. t is more prevalent however, in industries involving assembly line work such as manufacturing, sewing, cleaning, meat, poultry, fish packing and finishing work. Workers in these occupations are three times more likely to suffer carpal tunnel syndrome than office workers, who also are at an increased risk for developing CTS. It’s also known that women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. While the reason for this gender disparity is not entirely clear, researchers believe it may be related to women having a narrower carpal tunnel than men.
Employers who push workers too hard by requiring unrealistic quotas and insufficient breaks, place workers at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries.
Other workers at risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Stock handlers
- Cafeteria and other food industry workers
- Agricultural workers, including gardeners
- Healthcare workers
- Movers and loaders
- Truck drivers
- Construction workers
- Electronic industry workers
Certain work tasks are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, including tasks that:
- Require repetitive hand motions;
- Require workers to place their hands in awkward positions;
- Require strong gripping;
- Place mechanical stress on the palm of the hand;
- Involve vibrating machinery or tools;
- Are considered forceful; and
- Are performed continuously without breaks.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are more than 100 different kinds of repetitive stress injuries and illnesses. In addition to carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injuries that workers often face include:
- Bursitis, which is the inflammation of fluid-filled pads, or bursae, that cushion the joints.
- Tendinitis, which is the inflammation of a tendon.
- Rotator cuff injuries, a shoulder injury often suffered by workers such as painters and carpenters who perform repetitive overhead motions.
- Trigger finger, a condition in which a finger gets stuck in a bent position.
- Thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that occurs when blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and first rib, or thoracic outlet, are compressed.
If you have been injured on the job in Massachusetts, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman at (617) 367-2900 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers' compensation claim.