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Learning More About Workers’ Compensation and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Casey Woodruff

undefinedWhen most of us hear about a workplace injury and a resulting workers’ compensation claim, a repetitive motion injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome is not usually among the first types of injuries that comes to mind. Yet many workers’ compensation claims result from repetitive strain injuries. Indeed, these injuries can be just as debilitating as other serious workplace injuries, and it is important to understand whether you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)? 

According to a report from the University of Michigan, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a trauma disorder that stems from “prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward hand movements.” Such movements can lead to damage to the “muscles, tendons, and nerves of the neck, shoulder, forearm, and hand, which can cause pain, weakness, or impairment of motor control.”  The report identifies three primary risk factors for RSI:

  • Poor posture;
  • Poor technique; and
  • Overuse.

There are numerous disorders that fall into the larger category of repetitive strain injuries, and carpal tunnel is one of many of those disorders. To be sure, as the report explains, patients will not receive a medical diagnosis of a repetitive strain injury, but rather will receive a diagnosis of one of the disorders—such as carpal tunnel syndrome—that falls within this category of disorders.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

We know that carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the disorders commonly diagnosed as an RSI. If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome that resulted from workplace overuse, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. But it is important to know the limits of the law and to have a sense of the signs and symptoms of this workplace injury.

How can you know if you may be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome? The Mayo Clinic identifies the following symptoms of the disorder:

  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers or your hand, particularly in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, or ring finger (generally not your little finger); and
  • Weakness in your hand, which often shows itself in a tendency to drop object.

Employees can be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, but there are limits. According to an article in the Illinois Bar Journal, changes to the workers’ compensation act a few years ago limited recovery for carpal tunnel syndrome and other related repetitive strain injuries in a couple of different ways.

First, the changes to the law reduced the number of weeks for hand injuries from 205 to 190. In addition, carpal tunnel permanency, after these modifications to the law, is limited to “a maximum of 15 percent of the loss of use of a hand unless there is clear and convincing evidence of more disability.” In addition, there is an “upper limit on recovery at 30 percent loss of the use of the hand.”

Contact an Aurora Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Seeking compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome can be a complicated process, but an experienced Aurora workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to discuss your case.

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