Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Written by Andrew Sarski on January 14, 2011
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious condition in which the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes compressed at the wrist. The median nerve controls sensations on the palm side of the thumbs and fingers, as well as impulses to muscles in the hand that allow the fingers to move. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway at the base of the hand which contains the median nerve and other tendons. When the nerve is compressed, usually from swelling or the thickening of irritated tendons from performing repeated, limited range motions, an individual may experience weakness, pain, or numbness in the hand and wrist, as well as in the arm.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include itching, burning, tingling and numbness in the palm of the hand and fingers, as well as the sensation of swelling, even if no swelling has occurred. Typically, the numbness occurs at night when the wrists are flexed, and can be painful enough to disturb the individual’s sleep. As symptoms get worse, the tingling and numbness may also occur during the day. Victims may experience decreased strength in the hand, making it difficult or impossible to grasp objects, make a fist, or perform other simple tasks. Left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage with constant numbness, muscle atrophy, and weakness in the hand. Sometimes the muscles at the base of the thumb will waste away and some people may be unable to tell between hot and cold sensations using their hands.
Occupations Typical of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common occupational diseases. The risk of developing this condition is especially high in industries performing assembly line work, including sewing, fishing, manufacturing, cleaning and meat packing. In fact, data has indicated that assembly line workers are three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome than data-entry employees. It is estimated that 60% of carpal tunnel syndrome victims are unable to return to work for a period of time, compared to 34% for lower back strains. Furthermore, individuals who suffer from this condition may also require long-term medical care. Loss of income and the medical expenses involved in caring for carpal tunnel syndrome may leave some workers financially compromised and unable to pay their medical bills. It is estimated that the average lifetime cost of caring for the complications associated with carpal tunnel syndrome is $30,000 per affected individual.
Workers Compensation Insurance and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Some people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from workplace conditions will be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, the insurance company may simply choose to reject the claim or offer an extremely low settlement, leaving the victim in financial trouble. In fact, in a New York Occupational Health Clinic, 79% of claims were denied by the workers’ compensation insurer. This means that an individual suffering from this condition may be permanently disabled, unable to return to work, may have incurred tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills, and has now been rejected by the insurance company. The only way to fight a denied insurance claim is to hire an occupational disease attorney to represent your case. In fact, of those denied occupational disease claims in New York, 96% were later accepted after being challenged.
Legal Help for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious condition which, in its most severe form, can lead to permanent disability. Victims of this disease are not at fault and should consider how hiring an occupational disease lawyer can benefit them. People work hard for their employers and deserve to receive compensation for any injuries they may sustain as a result of workplace conditions. Millions of people who are required to perform repeated, limited range motions at work are at risk of developing a condition like carpal tunnel syndrome. The risk for this disease increases with age and is currently labeled the fastest-growing occupational hazard today. If you or a loved one has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, an experienced occupational disease attorney can help you develop a successful lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries.