What is Carpal Tunnel?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a world-famous royal-standard medical facility, carpal tunnel syndrome (“CTS”) is “a condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms in the hand and arm … caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist.”
The nerve at issue is the “median nerve.” As WebMD explains, “The median nerve and several tendons run from your forearm to your hand through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve controls movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers (not your little finger).”
If you think you might have CTS and if you think, “I have been injured at work,” you need to contact a work injury lawyer. You should act quickly because there are short deadlines for filing a claim under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws.
How Do I Know if I Have CTS?
Typically, CTS symptoms begin gradually, often starting with numbness or tingling in your thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. At the beginning, the sensations seem to “come and go.” As CTS progresses, the numbness and tingling occur more often, and sometimes the sensation feels like a tiny electric shock. The tingling and numbness can be extreme.
According to a Mayo Clinic hand surgeon, a common symptom is waking up in the middle of the night with numb and tingling hands. One key indicator of CTS is the absence of tingling/numbness in the little finger. Because the median nerve only connects to the other three fingers and the thumb, CTS does not generally affect the little finger.
Weakness in your hands and a tendency to drop objects are two other common symptoms. The median nerve controls the thumb’s pinching muscle which is often compromised when pressure is put on the nerve.
CTS Because of Your Job?
There are many non-work, non-employment factors that lead to CTS, but the scientific consensus is that workplace factors play a role — often a decisive role — in the onset and progression of the condition. As the US National Institute of Health has stated, “Workplace factors may contribute to existing pressure on or damage to the median nerve.” NIH Carpal Tunnel Fact Sheet, p. 5.
CTS is a form of repetitive stress injury (e.g., doing the same hand task over and over and over again). CTS is serious. It can be painful and debilitating and, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage to your hands and your ability to work and do everyday tasks.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (“CCOSH”), CTS has been associated with certain tasks including:
- Repetitive hand motions.
- Awkward hand positions.
- Strong gripping.
- Mechanical stress on the palm.
If your job involves these types of tasks and you are experiencing symptoms of CTS, you should see a physician and act quickly to determine your legal rights by contacting a work injury lawyer.
Not Just Office Workers
CTS is often thought of as a condition impacting mostly office workers and computer users. However, CTS is not confined to office workers or data entry. In addition to office work, the NIH lists these occupations/industries as examples where repetitive type tasks might result in CTS:
- Assembly line work (using small tools).
- Manufacturing (pressing, pulling machinery).
- Sewing (using needles, pulling cloth).
- Janitorial/cleaning (scrubbing, mopping).
- Meat packing/meat processing (cutting, deboning).
Other examples from CCOSH include:
- Farm workers (milking cows, hand-picking produce).
- Mechanics (using ratchets and screwdrivers).
- Gardener (using hand-tools).
- Painter (using sprayers, holding brushes/scrapers).
- Musician (using bow, fingering of piano and other instruments).
- Cashiers/retail (using laser scanner at checkout).
- Locksmith (turning keys).
If I Get Hurt at Work, What are My Rights?
The legal system can be confusing. Many people ask themselves: “If I get hurt at work, what are my workers’ compensation rights?” The simple answer is, you have a right to compensation for workplace injuries. This includes CTS and is true even if your employer has taken precautions to prevent injury. This is also true even if you have been very careful. Injured on the job means you are eligible for benefits. No one has to be at fault. The injury simply has to occur within the scope of your work duties.
Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo Can Help
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo can help determine if you are eligible to receive Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits because of CTS or any other workplace injury. Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo is a leading Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law firm. We have a team of lawyers and staff who will advocate for you and dedicate themselves to seeking the benefits to which you are entitled. Contact a member of our legal team today at (877) 299-0779.