We recommend workers compensation lawyers who work almost exclusively in the workers compensation industry and have years of experience with hand and wrist injuries. Generally, it is advantageous to hire an attorney who has experience with a specific injury, because experienced attorneys are more likely to obtain the maximum benefits for injuries allowed by PA law.
The following information is a brief overview of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a wide range of factors including pregnancy, repetitive bending of the wrist, repetitive forceful grasping of the hands, typing, menopause, thyroid disease, arthritis, and wrist fractures.
CTS is named after the tunnel that hosts the median nerve that travels from the wrist to the forearm. The tunnel also contains nine tendons that connect muscles to the wrist bone, allowing fingers to move. When the membrane surrounding those tendons becomes inflamed, it causes pain, swelling and numbness in the hand.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
CTS affects more than eight million people nation wide, and is the most common stress injury in workers compensation. Symptoms include numbness and pain in the hand that extends up the arm and sometimes into the shoulders, which can lead to clumsiness while handling objects. If you think that you might be experiencing these symptoms, you should see a doctor who specializes in CTS. To determine whether you have this injury doctors administer a nerve conduction study or EMG. Sometimes, however, itcan still be present when the test is normal.
Carpal Tunnel Treatments
The goal of treatment is to decrease the swelling of the inflamed membrane and relieve pressure on the median nerve. Early detection of and treatment reduces the chances that wrist surgery will be necessary.
If caught early, a doctor may only prescribe a splint that prevents the wrists from bending to relieve pressure on the nerve. Doctors can also proscribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and relieve pressure on the nerve. More severe cases of CTS require cortisone injections to the carpal tunnel to relieve swelling of the membrane.
If treatment doesn’t work, surgery may be necessary. Over 200,000 carpal tunnel surgeries are performed each year, so it is very common. Doctors refer to this surgery as a release surgery. Surgery essentially entails a doctor cutting the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel. A local anesthetic is used so that the surgery is painless and so that patients don’t have to spend a night in the hospital.
Workers Compensation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When CTS arises out of a work related activity, a worker can expect to recover all money that is spent on medical costs, including co-payments and out of pocket expenses. Workers can also recover lost wages when treatment requires absence from work. Thus, overall compensation depends on the severity of the injury, and the value of any lost wages. To get an estimate of what your injury may be worth, call us and we can connect you with an experienced workers compensation attorney.
Other Repetitive Stress Injuries:
Other injuries can also involve symptoms that are similar to CTS. Sometimes workers who think they have CTS actually have injuries such as radial tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve compression, cubital tunnel syndrome or DeQuervian’s tenosynovitis.