Work Injuries and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
When most of us hear about a workplace injury, we think about jobs that involve physical activity, transportation, or heavy lifting. However, office workers can suffer serious and debilitating injuries on the job too. One of the most common workplace injuries that can happen at your desk, as well as in other hands-on jobs, is carpal tunnel syndrome. What is it and who is at greatest risk for sustaining this kind of injury? Let’s take a look at some of the facts.
Learning More About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
According to the Mayo Clinic, carpal tunnel syndrome is “a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other symptoms” such as weakness in the fingers and hand. It’s often caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist, which can result from repetitive motions. One of the leading risk factors is repetitive hand motions in the workplace. For instance, repetitive motions may include “working with vibrating tools on an assembly line that requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist,” or holding the hand continuously in an awkward position. Computer use, for example, may play a role in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes carpal tunnel syndrome as a serious workplace injury, and it attributes numerous workplace factors to its development, including but not limited to:
- Repetitive hand motions;
- Awkward wrist positions or hand motions;
- Forceful gripping;
- Vibration; and
- Limited hand and wrist resting.
Risk Factors and Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Who is at greatest risk of carpal tunnel? While any job—from one requiring constant typing on a computer keyboard to one demanding that employees hold heavy, vibrating tools—can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, some of the following professions place employees at greater risk than others:
- Computer programmers;
- Administrative employees with computer duties;
- Dentists and dental hygienists;
- Product canning employees;
- Carpenters and roofers;
- Boat builders; and
These are just a handful of professions that can create the conditions necessary for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s important to remember that any job that requires repetitive hand motions or forceful gripping and grasping can lead to this condition.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may not be able to work for a period of time. To be sure, your physician may recommend treatment options that include nonsurgical therapy or surgery to alleviate your symptoms. In the meantime, the Mayo Clinic recommends taking the following steps to ease the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Taking breaks from repetitive hand activities;
- Rotating your wrist and stretching out your fingers and palm;
- Taking NSAID pain relievers;
- Wearing a wrist splint; and
- Avoiding sleeping on your hands at night to alleviate numbness.
Contact a Chicago Workers Compensation Attorney
In our state, employees who developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of doing their jobs may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act recently was amended to include caps on certain benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome claims, and it’s extremely important to discuss your case with an experienced St. Charles workers’ compensation attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to talk with a dedicated advocate about your claim.