Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the Workplace
Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as CTS, is a common workplace-related repetitive injury, and you should be able to get help through your workers’ compensation insurance. However, because the condition comes on gradually, you have to prove that your work is the primary cause.
Here is more information about CTS, what types of work trigger this condition, how occupational therapy can help, how to pinpoint the possible cause, and how you can prevent this condition.
What Is CTS?
Tendons, nerves, and blood vessels that control your fingers and hand pass through what is known as the carpal tunnel. When the tendon sheaths become irritated, they will swell up and put pressure on the median nerve. This results in the weak hands, finger tingling, forearm aches, and elbow pain that define CTS.
Who Is Most at Risk for CTS?
People who regularly use their hands, fingers, and wrists in high-speed, twisting, or gripping motions repetitively are at the highest risk for CTS. Additional risk factors also include being overweight and not in good shape. Also, you might be at risk if you have a history of arthritis or diabetes. Women are more likely to get the condition than men, especially during pregnancy or menopause. You are also more likely to have this problem if you are older.
What Work-Related Tasks Contribute to CTS?
Those who do a lot of typing or work at a cash register are highly prone to this type of injury, but they are not the only ones. If you do a lot of twisting or grasping, such as working with a screwdriver, wrench, or socket, then you are also at a higher risk. Even musicians are prone to CTS because musicians use their hands, fingers, and wrists consistently.
How Can One Tell If the CTS Is Work-Related?
To win a workers’ compensation case, you must be able to prove that the work activity directly caused the condition. Since symptoms may not appear for a long time, pinpointing the cause may be difficult.
Try to rule out other activities that you do at home, such as playing an instrument, doing home repairs, or crafting. Talk to your doctor about what activities you do that may cause CTS, and see if your symptoms decrease when you stop.
When Can Occupational Therapy Help?
Occupational therapy can help you by not only treating your symptoms but through the healing processes. The occupational therapist can show you different ways to work, different types of helpful aids, ways to splint your wrist, and ways to decrease pain. Once you start getting better, your therapist will show you how to prevent re-injury and provide help in strengthening your hands.
What Can You Do to Prevent CTS?
If your symptoms are mild, then you can take steps to further reduce your chance of CTS injury. For one, if possible, take breaks and switch to a task that doesn’t put pressure on the wrist or fingers. Look into devices that support your wrists for heavy-duty work. Learn helpful hand- and finger-stretching techniques. If you type, make sure your elbows and wrists are even with the keyboard to reduce putting pressure on that nerve.
If you can show that your work situation and conditions contribute to your CTS, then you should be covered under workers’ compensation. Once you start receiving workers’ compensation, seek out therapy and try to make permanent changes to prevent future injury.
If you struggle with navigating the workers’ compensation system, then Midwest Injury Help can work with you to find an attorney and get you started on treatment. Contact us for a referral to an attorney and medical professional to get you on the path to recovery.