If you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and your work requires a lot of typing or small, repetitive movements, your treatment may be covered by Workers Compensation.
When most people think of Workers Compensation injuries, they think of broken bones and torn ligaments from serious accidents at work. Few people would think of a comparatively small, niggling pain caused by repetitive tasks like typing or lifting. Even ‘safe’ occupations like office work can cause injuries that will be by Workers Compensation.
Jobs that require a lot of typing or small, repetitive movements can cause Repetitive Strain Injuries.
One of these types of repetitive strain injuries is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which happens when the median nerve, one of the main nerves to the hand, is squashed in the carpal tunnel, at the wrist.
- Burning, tingling, or itching numbness in your palm and thumb or your index and middle fingers
- Weakness in your hand and trouble holding things
- Shock-like feelings that move into your fingers
- Tingling that moves up into your arm
Treatment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome depends on the severity and duration of the problem. In mild cases of short duration, and particularly in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that occurs in pregnancy, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is usually treated without surgery. A wrist splint worn at night in most cases improves or relieves symptoms and helps you to get a good night sleep. A steroid injection at the wrist may be considered although this may not be a permanent solution to the problem.
Carpel Tunnel Surgery
Surgery is recommended for more severe or longstanding cases of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. The surgery is called carpal tunnel decompression and is a very minor procedure that is usually done under local anesthetic (you are awake throughout); it takes about 20 minutes to do.
Carpal tunnel decompression involves cutting through a tight ligament that the nerve passes beneath; this is where the nerve is squashed. The incision is made on the palm of the hand near the wrist and just over an inch long. The wound is stitched, a dressing and wrist splint is applied.
After surgery the hand is rather out of action for a few days although you will be able to use the hand to do essential things. The splint is removed 2-4 days after surgery and only a small adhesive dressing is then required.
A physical therapist will do this and help with some simple exercises to get you back to using the hand in the shortest time. Stitches are removed at about 10 days after surgery. Patients who do desk type work will typically be able to return to work within a week of surgery and you can drive at this stage also. Patients whose work is more manual may return to work at 2-3 weeks after surgery.
Surgical treatment is usually very effective. In very severe or longstanding cases (2 years) symptoms are more often improved than relieved. Serious complications are extremely uncommon. The most frequent problem after surgery is some tenderness of the scar. This will settle with scar massage.
How to start the Workers Compensation process if you have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
Thankfully, Dayton Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Center is the region’s leading independent orthopedic Workers’ Compensation specialist! We have a dedicated Workers Compensation team who will guide you through every step of the way, from first report of injury all the way through to after care.
We will provide you with your very own Workers Compensation Concierge, who will help keep all interested parties – your insurance, your employer, the Bureau of Workers Compensation, your legal team if necessary – informed and apprised of the situation, to help you return to work as quickly and safely as possible.