It started with a tingling sensation of the hands in the mornings upon waking up. You ignored it, thinking it will go away by itself. Then the tingling develops into burning which becomes worse as the day progresses. Weeks or months after the first symptom, the pain is unbearable. It now includes the wrist and forearm. Apart from the pain, there is a feeling of numbness and swelling. You lose your grip and cannot perform even minor tasks involving the hand.
You have been working right after graduation from school, which was many years ago. Your work entails a lot of making reports and typing on the computer. Now a single touch on a key causes a sharp, shooting pain from the wrist to the hand. When you see your doctor, he examines your hands and orders an x-ray and other tests to confirm what he suspects. They all come out positive.
You have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive condition caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The pressure compresses this nerve, resulting in pain and numbness. Repetitive hand/wrist motion is the major cause of CTS. When your work involves spending many hours in a day typing or using the computer, or working in the kitchen of a restaurant where you cut, slice and dice meat, poultry and vegetables frequently, you are at high risk for CTS.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a work-related condition.
What you may not know and your company may intentionally withhold from you is that you are entitled to workers compensation for diseases and injuries that arise from doing your job. According to Lawyers, the Workers’ Compensation law is designed to protect you. But lawyers for businesses will find ways to dispute your rights. And, since carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that develops gradually, they may claim that it was not your work with them that caused your CTS.
Workers’ Compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome
The medical expenses you incur for carpal tunnel syndrome may be distributed over the companies you have worked for, if you were employed by more than one company. The type of work you did for each job and the length of your employment will be considered. Company lawyers will try to outdo each other in shirking away from major responsibilities.
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome is lengthy and costly.
Mild CTS can take one to two weeks of home rest and refraining from doing activities that use the affected hand and wrist. That means a leave of absence from work. The doctor will prescribe pain relievers and steroids and possible surgery if the symptoms are not alleviated by medication.
Your workstation, keyboard and chair should be replaced with ergonomic fixtures, or you may have to be assigned to other tasks that use less hand movement.
You may need a physical therapist to teach you proper stretching and strengthening exercises and an occupational therapist to teach you correct posture and positioning, and new skills.
All of these will cost money that can be a burden on you if your company succeeds in limiting their liabilities. Having your own lawyer who knows about Workers’ Compensation is your best protection against unscrupulous individuals and businesses.