It is quite easy to take your hands for granted, especially during work. We use our hands in almost every single task on any given day. This makes them susceptible to work-related injuries. Occupational injuries are injuries that occur as a direct consequence from the course of your employment.
For instance, someone who is employed in construction can experience mild to severe back problems after a long time period based on the bending, standing, and lifting expectations of their job. However, when the use of your fingers and thumbs becomes difficult because of a medical condition, life can become very difficult and frustrating. And no one can understand this better than an employee who is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often a result of various repetitive hand motions, like typing or other kinds of repetitive hand motions. Note that the “carpal” is a narrow passage located at the base of your hand that your nerves and tendons go through. And when this area bulges or swells, it usually creates pressure on your nerves, which results in numbness in your hands and fingers.
It is worth mentioning that many people notice it initially as a problem in which their hands frequently tingle and “fall asleep,” usually waking them up at night. In contrast, some people suffer excruciating pain in their hands due to the swelling.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by the repetitive motions of your hand and fingers working consecutively for hours at the computer keyboard or typewriter. Other activities include meat cutting or chopping and wrapping, usually by quick speed assembly-line work.
Assembly line workers in a garment factory, carpenters, welders, hospital workers, and even inventory stocking workers can all develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel than men. This might be because, on average, women have a considerably narrower carpal tunnel for their median nerve to travel through. This makes it more likely to get compressed
However, merely filing a workers’ compensation claim in California does not always lead to restitution and/or the time off from your work that’s usually needed to heal from your injury.
It takes a competent and experienced Oakland workers compensation lawyer by your side in order to ensure that you receive every penny you deserve. Keep in mind that you deserve adequate treatment, whether it is carpal tunnel surgery, wrist braces, physical therapy, and/or vocational rehabilitation.
A Misunderstanding about Workers’ Compensation in California
A prevalent misunderstanding when it comes to workers’ compensation in California is that it’s only for those workers who have had accidents. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. A perfect example of this is work-related carpal tunnel syndrome.
Note that any medical problem can be compensable provided it could be medically linked with repetitive motions that are necessitated or caused by one’s job which over the span of time cause, trigger or contribute to that medical problem. So, the benefits under workers’ compensation are the same, irrespective of the circumstances creating the causally related condition.
How Your Work Can Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you work in an industry which requires you to make the same wrist and hand motions repeatedly, it can cause trauma to this part of your body. Some of the most common repetitive motions on the job are:
- Operating a cash register
- Cutting hair
Diagnosing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You should tell your doctor when you initially started to notice symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, exactly what you were doing when the symptoms occurred, and the way it is affecting your ability to perform tasks both on and off the job.
CTS is often diagnosed through:
- Physical examination of your fingers and wrist for tenderness, sensation, swelling, or discoloration
- X-rays to detect arthritis
- Lab tests to detect diabetes
- ultrasound imaging which indicates an abnormal size of your median nerve
- Manipulation of your wrist by the doctor to determine if numbness or tingling occurs
What Should You Do If You Believe You Have Carpal Tunnel?
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, you must seek medical treatment right away. Since this injury usually progresses in severity over time, it’s vital to start treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome as early as possible. And if you’re diagnosed with CTS, it is also vital that you timely inform your employer of your injury and that it’s related to the employment.
While carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the common workplace injuries, most employers in California will try to dispute your claim based on your failure to report your work injury in a timely manner.
Treatment for CTS
The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome includes:
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Prescription corticosteroids
- Avoiding certain activities that might provoke symptoms
Filing a Claim for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in California
California law mandates that most employers in the state carry workers’ comp insurance. Note that the aim of a workers’ comp policy in California is to offer workers benefits they deserve, like medical expenses as well as a portion of pay, in the unfortunate event that the occupational injury interferes with her or his ability to work. However, keep in mind that workers often run into various problems and complications when trying to file their workplace injury claim because of carpal tunnel. This is why hiring a competent attorney is important.
Proving Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a Workplace Injury
As various factors could cause carpal tunnel syndrome, it usually makes these claims tricky to prove. This is why to receive workers’ comp benefits in California you will need to establish that your condition developed or worsened because of your work duties instead of other external factors which are not related to your job. The worker has the burden of proof when it comes to establishing that their carpal tunnel injury is the result of work duties.
For example, if a worker enjoys tennis or golf as a hobby, an insurer will likely try to argue and prove that the sport was the main cause of the worker’s injury, not the nature of their work.
So, given the complexities often involved in these cases, having an experienced workers’ comp attorney in California can make a huge difference in being able to prove your case. The attorney will be able to do the following:
- Consult with a competent healthcare provider or doctor to examine as well as diagnose your condition
- Comprehensively document your injury via extensive testing, like x-rays, imaging, and other similar procedures
- Explain the various job duties you perform that likely caused the condition to develop
How Workers’ Compensation Can Help
As many workers in California are aware, workers’ comp insurance can help an employee who has been injured or become sick because of their job by covering the costs of medical bills as well as a certain portion of the wages they would’ve earned while recuperating. Workers’ comp is insurance that your employer is obliged to carry by law.
If you suffer a job-related injury in California, it will provide you with the following:
- Replacement income while you’re not able to work
- Partial or full payment of your various medical expenses that are related to the injury, such as doctor visits, prescription medications, physical therapy, and sometimes even surgery, depending on your case
- Adequate training so that you qualify for a different position, in case you are not able to work in your previous position due to the injury
However, with carpal tunnel syndrome, the problem that a lot of workers face is establishing that the job duties they perform daily caused the condition. So, the best and most efficient way to get the compensation benefits you need from the beginning is consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney in California. An experienced attorney will review your work history, medical documents, and help you find an experienced medical professional who can testify to the main cause of your carpal tunnel.
And that is not all as they can also speak with insurance companies on your behalf, help you with paperwork, and identify any other methods to obtain compensation.
Get Legal Assistance for Your Carpal Tunnel Workers’ Compensation Claim
Do not suffer the constant pain and limitations associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re pursuing a claim in California for workers’ compensation benefits because of CTS caused by your occupation, then our attorneys can help. Our qualified attorneys are experienced and have expertise working with these kinds of cases. They could help guide you in building a strong case to support your claim and receive all the benefits that you’re entitled to receive.
Insurance companies usually try to use tactics which relieve them of the obligation of paying out a claim. This is why having a skilled California workers’ compensation attorney throughout the process forces these insurance companies to take your claim more seriously, which increases your chances of receiving benefits from a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis.
Our workers’ comp attorneys can help you with the filing process while representing your rights throughout.