Many jobs require repetitive motions that continuously or frequently use the same parts of the body to perform the same task. Over time, the affected joint, nerves, ligaments, muscles, tendons and other body parts can wear out or become injured, either permanently or temporarily. These injuries are called repetitive motion injuries or repetitive stress injuries, and one of the most common RMI is carpal tunnel syndrome, called CTS.
When CTS is caused by work activities, Workers’ Compensation should cover associated medical bills, lost wages and retraining, if necessary. If there is permanent disability that prevents work, permanent disability benefits would be appropriate. Employers can lessen the risk of CTS by consulting ergonomics specialist to help in the proper design of workstations.
CTS is the compression of a nerve that passes through the wrist by swelling of surrounding tendons and ligaments. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Symptoms may include severe pain, numbness, weakness, decreased range of motion and clumsiness.
- Untreated CTS can result in “complete loss of function.”
- Women are three times more likely to develop CTS.
- Other risk factors include trauma, diabetes, pregnancy, thyroid disease and arthritis.
- Medical treatment can include occupational therapy, exercise, pain management, braces and the use of heat or cold
Mayo Clinic also cites tingling as an early symptom and obesity as a high risk factor.
If less intrusive treatment is not successful, surgery may be necessary, but recovery from surgery can take “several months,” according to Mayo.
Occupations and work tasks associated with the potential for workers to develop carpal tunnel include:
- Keyboard work
- Poultry and meat processing
- Work using vibrating tools or equipment
- Agricultural workers
- And others
Anyone with CTS symptoms should seek medical attention and give notice to his or her employer of the problem as soon as possible. Speak with an attorney about the potential for a Workers’ Compensation claim immediately. Time is of the essence as deadlines may apply throughout the process.