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What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the wrist and hand. These symptoms are caused by pressure on a nerve in the wrist. This nerve, called the median nerve, is in the “carpal tunnel,” a narrow space inside the arm/wrist.

Various activities may worsen or exacerbate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, including:

  • Repetitive movements
  • Driving
  • Typing on a keyboard
  • Holding objects

Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect everyday activity. In its early stages, simple at-home remedies can help ease symptoms, such as using ice packs and taking breaks between repetitive activities. However, when the symptoms become so bothersome that a person cannot work or maintain daily activity levels without experiencing pain, they should call a doctor and seek treatment. Fortunately, treatment is possible, and can help prevent permanent nerve damage.

Noninvasive treatments like pain medications and wrist splints can be helpful. Surgery can also help relieve pressure on the median nerve. Carpal tunnel wrist surgery success rates are high and can relieve symptoms completely. However, in severe carpal tunnel syndrome cases, surgery may not completely cure and relieve all symptoms.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many things, including an individual’s anatomy and pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis. However, it can also be caused by certain work-related activities that involve repetitive motion strain and excessive use of certain tools.

Therefore, it is possible to receive carpal tunnel workers’ comp payments. It is critical to provide adequate documentation and evidence that the carpal tunnel was caused by work-related duties.

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Carpal tunnel syndrome at the workplace

Repetitive motion injuries are a common ailment among workers. They can be caused by any repetitive movement, whether it is at a relatively low-risk job, such as an office job, or a higher-risk job, such as construction. An employee may sustain repetitive motion injuries through:

  • Long periods of using a computer keyboard and/or mouse
  • Extensive use of vibrating power tools, such as hammer drills or circular saws
  • Sports activities requiring repetitive motions, such as tennis or running
  • Poorly fitted equipment

Because carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many things, the employee must prove that it was caused by work-related activities. There are several different ways the employee can do this:

  • Prove that the work-related duties specifically put the employee at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Some activities, such as using vibrating power tools, are known for their increased risks of nerve damage. If the employee is engaging in activities with known risks—that are higher than what they would normally be exposed to—then the employee should document this.
  • Prove that the carpal tunnel was not caused by non-work activities. The employee can provide evidence that they are not doing any repetitive motion activities at home (e.g., playing tennis, using power tools).
  • Prove that there are no pre-existing conditions. The employee should see a doctor to ensure that they do not have any pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis or a nerve-damaging disease. This can help bolster the claim that the carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by work-related duties and not something else.

Although they are not easy to document, carpal tunnel workers’ comp claims can be successful. The employee may want to seek the advice of a doctor to help them find the right kind of documentation for their claim.

The employee is responsible for gathering evidence and other documentation related to their carpal tunnel syndrome. Employees also need to know how to file workers’ compensation claims on their own or with the help of their supervisor. Policies and procedures can vary between businesses and insurance companies, so it is important to defer to the procedures established by your employer and insurance carrier.

Receiving carpal tunnel workers’ comp payments

If the carpal tunnel workers’ comp claim is approved, the employee should be compensated for medical bills (including surgery fees) related to their carpal tunnel treatment, as well as compensation for a percentage of missed wages while they were out of work due to their recovery. The workers’ comp impairment rating system varies from state to state, although many states follow the American Medical Association’s Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.

A diagnosis of carpal tunnel typically results in a temporary impairment rating, as carpal tunnel is often treatable. This rating depends on the level of functionality the employee has in their wrist and hand. A more severe case of carpal tunnel would result in a higher impairment rating.

The average impairment rating payout can also vary from state to state. Some states have higher payouts than others. The total payout also depends on how many days of missed work the employee accrued. If the employee is not able to return to work at all, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation disability payments. However, because carpal tunnel syndrome is usually treatable, this is rare.

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Each year, at least three million American workers experience work-related carpal tunnel syndrome, making it an all-too-common occupational health condition. If an employee develops carpal tunnel syndrome through their job or occupation, their treatment may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, making it eligible for work injury compensation.

Yes, it’s possible for an employee to get time off work for having carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly if they are recovering from carpal tunnel surgery. The employee may eventually be able to return to work, but if the job requires repetitive movement or manual labor, they may need to wait longer.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is work-related when it is caused by activities in the scope of employment. The injuries and symptoms must either occur because of work-related duties, or they must have gotten worse because of work-related tasks. Injuries may still be considered work-related if the carpal tunnel developed slowly over time.

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