Carpal tunnel syndrome and Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claims

Carpal tunnel is an internal injury to the wrist and hand caused by repetitive motion.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is frequently seen as a repetitive motion injury, which evolves over time when a person has to perform the same motion time after time and day after day such as a particular work task. It can also occur when using vibrating tools or after direct trauma to the wrist or forearm. CTS is associated with certain kinds of jobs and when it is a work-related injury, the employee would be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover medical treatment and lost wages.

What is CTS?

Carpal tunnel syndrome involves a pinched median nerve that runs through a hollow opening in the wrist when the surrounding tendons become inflamed and press inward. It is more common in women and in those with particular other conditions like diabetes, pregnancy, gout, thyroid problems, arthritis, obesity and others.

Some of the symptoms in the hand and wrist (and even the upper arm and shoulder) can include:

  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Clumsiness and decreased dexterity

Sometimes the symptoms can be treated without surgery using rest, splinting, anti-inflammatory medications, heat and cold, prescribed exercise and more. In aggressive cases, orthopedic surgery may bring relief by taking pressure off the nerve. Unfortunately, the condition can progress to a point of permanent impairment to the area, even after surgery. Getting a quick diagnosis and quick treatment can lead to better outcomes.

What are typical jobs causing CTS?

Jobs and work tasks that involve repetitive motions that can lead to carpal tunnel include:

  • Keyboard work
  • Agricultural work
  • Assembly
  • Meat and poultry processing
  • Hairdressers
  • Musicians
  • Cashiers
  • Bakers
  • Sewers
  • Using a spray gun
  • House cleaners
  • Use of certain power tools, especially with vibration, like jackhammers or floor buffers
  • And more

Legal advocacy

It can be important for an employee with work-related CTS to talk to an attorney who has handled workers' compensation claims involving carpal tunnel and understands the issues involved when proving that the injury is work-related. Some of the challenges can be the onset date of an injury that develops over time as well as the subjective nature of many of the symptoms.

An attorney will see that the medical evidence is comprehensively developed and will consult a medical expert, if necessary.

Despite the challenge of some CTS cases, Pennsylvania courts recognize the link between carpal tunnel and certain jobs.

The certified specialist workers' compensation lawyers at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C., with offices in Pottstown, West Chester and Reading, represent injured employees in their workers' compensation claims across southeastern Pennsylvania.