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Don’t Let your Wrist Injury Affect your Life
When people hear the words “carpal tunnel,” they most likely think of an injury caused by excessive typing – that’s partly true. Carpal tunnel syndrome (carpal tunnel) is a repetitive stress injury that occurs in many professions. It is caused by putting pressure on the median nerve and by repetitive hand/wrist movements. The median nerve runs from the forearm to the hand through a narrow space in the wrist, called the carpal tunnel. It controls the movement and feeling in your hand (except the little finger.) This causes swelling and the carpal tunnel to become smaller. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, weak grip and pain.
Who Gets Carpal Tunnel?
You would be surprised at how many professions where employees develop carpal tunnel. The common elements are the position of the hands. When the hands are lower than the wrists, it is easy to want to rest the hands on something, such as the edge of a keyboard or desk. It also happens with repetitive wrist movements, such as chopping vegetables for meals or scrubbing floors. It can even develop from vibrating tools, such as a weed-wacker or nail gun. When we start to get pain in our hands, wrists and fingers, we wonder if it could be because of our age. But, it can actually be carpal tunnel.
Proving Carpal Tunnel is Work Related
Carpal tunnel is a work-related injury. However, the client must prove that the injury was caused by the job duties at work and not from a nonwork-related activity, such as sports or a second job. Also, the client must prove that it was not caused from illness (e.g. arthritis,) pregnancy or wrist cysts. And, it can take months (even years) for symptoms to appear. There are three tests that diagnose carpal tunnel: Tinel’s test, Phalen’s test and electromyography. The approved physician to your case should order them right away.
As soon as carpal tunnel is diagnosed, you should file a workers’ compensation claim. Alert your employer right away by providing details of the injury (i.e. when the pain first began.) Treatment depends the on the severity – from a splint and pain medication to surgery and physical therapy. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your status will then be determined:
- Temporary total disability: you can return to your job once you have recovered.
- Permanent partial disability: you cannot return to your job or any job that can aggravate or damage the carpal tunnel in the affected wrist(s).
You are entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages. Don’t delay in filing your workers’ compensation claim, and do not give up if your employer makes the process difficult.
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