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What You Should Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome gets very little media attention. It’s not a flashy injury, like ring degloving or burns. It is, however, a life altering injury, and one that is frequently attributable to the work place.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the name given to a set of symptoms caused by pressure on the median nerve. This is a nerve that goes from the forearm to the hand through a space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel.

When this nerve is pinched, fingers and hands feel numbness, tingling, and weakness. Sometimes there is pain between the hand and elbow. A sure sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is that there is pain in the index, thumb, and middle fingers, but the little finger is fine: the little finger gets feeling from a different nerve. The patient will also drop things often, and his or her grip will weaken. The dexterity of the thumb and fingers lessens, and the patient might lose the ability to pinch.

Often, these symptoms first crop up at night, and the sufferer can relieve them by shaking his or her hands. The dominant hand will likely feel the pain first, and it will frequently be the most affected hand, too.

As many as 15 million people in the US have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and it is one of the most common types of surgery performed.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has a couple of causes. Anything that causes swelling of the tendons in the wrist or causes the carpal tunnel to shrink will do it. Pregnant women sometimes get it, and people with diseases such as hypothyroidism and diabetes can suffer from it. A major cause is also repetitive motion of someone’s hands. This is especially true if the repetitive movement involves the hands being lower than the wrists, such as the sort of motion that comes with typing or working a cash register.

A doctor tests for the syndrome by checking the feeling and strength in a patient’s shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. The doctor might have the patient perform the Phalen’s manuever or wrist-flex test, where the patient presses his or hands together to flex the wrists as far back as possible and see if this causes tingling. There might be blood and nerve tests to perform as well. Once it is diagnosed, the patient might have to wear a wrist splint at night, stop the activities that caused the numbness and pain, and ice his or her wrist at regular intervals. If it is really bad, and the pain will not abate after months of treatment, a patient may need surgery where the ligaments in the wrist are severed.

It is often hard for anyone with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to return to the job, and treating it can mean time off of work. Work-related Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome is covered by worker’s compensation in Minnesota. If the worker and the worker’s lawyer can prove that the condition was caused by the repetitive motions of the job, the patient can receive permanency benefits, loss wages benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and medical benefits.

The difficult part of getting these benefits is that the worker has to prove that the syndrome came from work. The symptoms can develop months after leaving the job that caused the injury, and it can sometimes take years to develop. Fortunately, Minnesota Worker’s Compensation covers conditions that grow over time. It will also cover a re-injury of a pre-existing condition. There is also the possibility of receiving a permanent partial disability rating based on Minnesota’s compensation disability schedules, which will entitle a person to a disability benefit.

Insurance companies frequently try to claim that the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome came from some non-work related condition. The company may try to say it stems from a hobby or a health condition. A good lawyer can set them straight and make sure the sufferer gets all the benefits that he or she deserves. Anyone who finds him or herself suffering from work-related Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can contact us for help.