Nerve Damage (Ulnar Neuropathy)
Nerve damage is an overall description for many different types of extremely painful workplace injuries. If an employee suffers a workplace injury in Boston that results in nerve damage, the employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
There are a various types of nerve damage and various medical conditions that are related to occupational nerve damage. In a typical workers’ compensation case involving nerve damage, workers may suffer from ulnar neuropathy or from a repetitive stress injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Many people think that repetitive stress injuries most commonly occur in office settings, such as people who sit at a desk all day. While this can certainly lead to a repetitive stress injury, many people working in a factory setting or agricultural job may also put significant stress on their hands and other parts of their bodies, causing repetitive stress injuries to occur.
Some Boston workers’ compensation cases involve nerve injuries that are known as pressure injuries. Pressure injuries are those caused by pressure being placed directly on nerves. If there is a significant amount of pressure placed on the nerve, the blood to the brain could be blocked, which can block the transmission of information through that nerve. An example of this is carpal tunnel syndrome, which typically happens as a result of pinching or compression of the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel contains bundles of nerves that travel through the wrist into the hand. When that bundle is pinched, an individual may feel pins and needles, or extreme pain in the hand and wrist that can often radiate up and down the entire arm. This type of nerve damage can be permanent, or it may eventually heal. Doctors and Scientists are constantly doing research and experimentation involving the re-growing of nerves in order to help alleviate this problem. We can only hope there will be more progress in the future for these workplace injuries to the central or peripheral nervous system.
Ulnar Neuropathy is a serious medical condition that involves the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve extends via a brachial cord plexus that is located in the forearm. According to Medscape, the purpose of the ulnar nerve is to provide the arm and hand with what is known as innervation to the muscles. The ulnar nerve also supplies some of the fingers with sensation when an object is touched. Extreme pain, numbness, loss of feeling, pins and needles, and various other symptoms can occur when the ulnar nerve is compressed or pinched.
There are many spots along the ulnar nerve that can become impinged, but one of the most common spots of ulnar neuropathy is right around the elbow. The next most likely place for this condition to occur is at the wrist. It is often confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, but that involves the carpal tunnel and not the ulnar nerve. The pain is also in a somewhat different location with carpal tunnel syndrome than we typically see with ulnar neuropathy.
There are various ways this injury can occur at work. In some cases, an employee who suffers from a repetitive stress injury (RSI) can develop ulnar neuropathy. RSI occurs when the worker is required to move in harmful or awkward positions on a regular basis. This condition can also occur secondary to a traumatic injury to an employee’s elbow. This is the type of ulnar neuropathy that occurs at the end of the nerve section closest to the elbow.
Another class of nerve damage injury typically seen in Boston workers’ compensation cases, involves injuries to the nervous system caused by a single trauma, such as when an employee is bruised, sprains a muscle or even suffers a serious burn injury. Third and fourth degree burns can cause significant damage to, or completely destroy, nerves and all surrounding tissues and even bone.
Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 36, there are certain types of workplace injuries that allow for the payment of special benefits in addition to the standard award of damages typically seen in a Boston workers’ compensation case. These types of injuries are defined in the statute as specific injuries and include the amputation of a limb or extremity. This includes the leg, foot, hand, arm, fingers, or toes. The law also states that an actual amputation is not required, as a loss of function of that limb or extremity will also allow for the payment of special benefits.
Section 36 benefits are typically paid in a single lump sum benefits award. If the loss of function is to an entire leg, there will be a higher payment allowed than if the loss of function was to a foot or even a toe. When we are dealing with loss of function to arms, hands, or fingers, the law will provide more payment if the arm injured was the major arm. This is the term used in our workers’ compensation act to define employee’s dominant arm. For example, if you are right handed, your right arm is your major arm and your left arm is your minor arm.
If an employee suffers an injury that includes nerve damage while on the job, the nerve damage may lead to a permanent loss of function to that limb or extremity. This can include the loss of the ability to move the limb or the loss of one of the senses, such as touch, as this is also included in the statute. This is a case-by-case situation, because the facts of any two cases are never the same. Employees should speak with an experienced legal team about the facts of their respective cases to see what benefits they may qualify for.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.