Most people think about traumatic injuries that result from machinery failures, fires and other dramatic incidents when they think about workers’ compensation. However, workers’ compensation isn’t just for those hurt in a catastrophic accident.
Benefits are also available for those who develop a work-acquired medical condition. Cancer, soft tissue injuries and repetitive motion injuries can all qualify a worker for benefits. Instead of notifying their employer about an accident on the job, they will have to advise them of their diagnosis, which may have happened at an outside medical facility.
Sometimes, the damage to your body caused by your job builds up a little bit at a time. It may only be after years of employment that you start to notice symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of a slow-developing condition that affects thousands of office workers. It often causes weakness, tingling, numbness or pain in the hands, fingers and forearms. What happens if you develop carpal tunnel syndrome because you type at work?
You can probably apply for workers’ compensation
Once you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you may have symptoms for the rest of your life. The only positive thing about developing a repetitive stress injury because of your job is that you might get workers’ compensation benefits for your medical care.
Workers’ compensation medical benefits cover 100% of your approved costs, which means you won’t have out-of-pocket expenses for your treatment. You can also get disability benefits if you need an extended leave of absence during your recovery.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim will also make it easier for you to ask your employer for accommodations, like ergonomics supports, different job responsibilities or frequent breaks to avoid aggravating the condition.
You may need physical therapy, different work or surgery
Depending on the extent of the carpal tunnel syndrome and the symptoms it produces, you may have different medical needs. Some people simply need to reduce how much they type or use their hands. Others will need physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the hands and forearms. In extreme cases, you may even need surgery and time off of work to recover.
Getting a diagnosis and informing your employer of it will usually be the first steps toward getting workers’ compensation benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome.