CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Worker’s comp Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is often caused by numerous repetitive motions of the fingers. In worker’s comp, the most common is keystrokes. Constant inputting of data on a keyboard hour after hour, day after day. The beginning symptoms may be numbness or tingling. You feel it in your fingers, wrist or arm. Doctors diagnose carpal tunnel from numbness in the pinky and ring fingers.
There are 9 tendons in your arm which allow movement of your fingers. These tendons are closest together at your wrist. The tendons travel through the narrow carpal tunnel. Overusing the tendons causes the carpal tunnel to narrow. Then, the carpal tunnel pinches and causes discomfort and pain.
When is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome a Worker’s Comp Injury?
Worker’s comp insurers may blame carpal tunnel on diabetes. Diabetes isn’t a workplace injury. We must prove workplace actions are the prevailing factor in your carpal tunnel syndrome. Typically, highly frequent repetitive arm, hand or finger movements, such as:
- data entry typing;
- loading dock workers grip and move containers;
- assembly line workers squeeze the trigger at the auto plant, or pluck chickens at the yard.
When the doctor says work is the prevailing factor, its a worker’s comp injury. Prevailing factor means more likely than not. So, the doctor must write at least 51% chance work activities caused the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Your activities outside of work may also contribute to this injury. I have seen doctors state that recreational activities such as playing the piano or bouncing up and down on a motorcycle is the prevailing factor in causing my client’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
What happens if the injury is work-related?
As with most injuries, surgery is the last resort. Many doctors first prescribe rest, and then physical therapy. The surgical option is a Carpal Tunnel Release. This surgery is done in the office, and involves snipping the ligament which crosses over the carpal tunnel. Typically there is 2 weeks off work and then some physical therapy.
Benefits available in Carpal Tunnel Worker’s Compensation claims
- Medical bills, including physical therapy are paid in full by worker’s compensation insurance. You will not have any co-pay or deductible amount.
- Temporary Total Disability payments will be paid to you weekly for the time your doctor prescribes no work.
- Disfigurement, for any scar on your wrist.
- Permanent Partial Disability. As with other traumatic injuries, you will not heal 100%. The percentage you have healed, less than 100% is the basis for your final lump sum payment.
To learn how delinquent child support affects your award, see my post Worker’s Comp Pays Child Support.