Whether your job involves typing on a keyboard, moving products on an assembly line or preparing food in a restaurant, repetitive motions involving your wrists and hands can cause extreme discomfort. When the strain begins to affect your ability to work, it may be time to consider your options.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that can cause sharp pain, tingling and numbness in the wrists and hands. What may begin as a dull pain can escalate to the point where completing your work is unbearable.
Is carpal tunnel a workplace injury?
Workplace injuries are typically considered to be severe and sudden. However, repetitive stress injuries that occur on the job, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are also eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
In fact, there were 139,336 workers’ comp claims due to carpal tunnel reported between 2007 and 2014 in California. Among the claims, women were more likely than men to suffer. Those working in textiles, apparel, food processing and administrative roles had the greatest risk of developing the syndrome.
Beginning the recovery process
Workers’ comp can provide necessary recovery measures to allow your wrists and hands time to heal. Here are several steps to take:
- Report your injury to your supervisor. Carpal tunnel can be difficult to realize the extent of immediately, as symptoms tend to gradually worsen. Inform your employer as soon as you can to ensure an efficient claim process.
- Get the opinion of a doctor. Your employer may press you to prove that your role caused the carpal tunnel, rather than another activity like playing an instrument or even tennis. Maintain detailed documentation and obtain the diagnosis or professional opinion of a doctor to prove the cause of your injury.
- File a workers’ comp claim with your employer. This will help you gain access to replacement income, benefits, medical care and recovery time as soon as possible.
- Focus on your recovery. Treatment options for carpal tunnel can vary, including wearing a brace or undergoing physical therapy or even surgery. Confirm your treatment options with your workers’ comp coverage.
Managing workplace repetitive stress injuries
Many employers are working to provide employees with accommodations to prevent repetitive stress injuries. However, carpal tunnel and other similar injuries are still common. An attorney can assist in navigating the workers’ comp claim process and advocate for you if your claim is unexpectedly delayed or denied.