Have you ever used your hand or wrist so much in a short period of time that it’s become sore or experienced a unique form of tingling or pain? This could be an example of what it feels like to have carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as CTS. Your carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway located at the base of your hand which is composed of bones and ligaments. This passageway houses nerves and tendons that make your fingers operate and provide feeling to several of your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is when this passageway becomes irritated or swollen, causing the median nerve to become compromised.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
You can usually identify CTS through its fairly distinct symptoms. The most common and often-experienced is a frequent burning, tingling, or numbness feel in the palm of your hand or your fingers. Some people claim that their fingers feel swollen or enlarged, even though there may be no obvious signs of swelling or enlargement. In advanced states, CTS can reduce grip strength and even cause the muscles at the base of the thumb to waste away. Eventually people may have trouble grasping small objects, making a fist, or lose the ability to tell between hot and cold by touch. In its advanced stages, CTS can be extremely painful for some, and cause discomfort or unusual feeling in the hand constantly.
Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
In most cases, CTS is not caused by a problem with the nerves in your hand, but rather by the tunnel that they’re located in itself closing down and reducing space that the nerves have to rest in. Most often this is caused by trauma or injury to the wrist which causes swelling of the carpal tunnel, like a sprain or fracture. According to the National Institutes of Health, certain medical conditions can also contribute to CTS. This includes an overactive pituitary gland, underactive thyroid gland, and rheumatoid arthritis.
However, it’s also often caused by repetitive stress injuries, including something as simple as typing day after day for years on end. As such, this is a somewhat common occurrence for those who work in office jobs and spend their days in front of a computer, and emphasizes the importance of a comfortable, ergonomic setup that doesn’t place extra stress on the wrists or fingers. It’s not limited strictly to office workers, either: those who work with vibrating hand tools like drills, saws, sanders, or really just about anything else. This makes carpenters, construction workers, roofers, and just about any other construction-related occupation prone to CTS injuries as well.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be alleviated, but it does take time and requires a considerable amount of rest. Likewise, once you suffer from this condition, it is more likely to return in the future as well. Mild cases can generally be treated without serious surgery. Avoiding symptom-provoking activities can help aid in recovery, as can wearing a splint at night to prevent awkward bending or irritating wrist positions. Over the counter drugs and prescription medications can help alleviate the pain and reduce the swelling in the carpal tunnel, reducing the pressure on the nerve and helping the condition to subside.
However, more serious cases may require surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery is actually somewhat common, and usually involves severing a tendon to release pressure on the nerve and create more space for it. This is generally an outpatient procedure that’s done quickly under minimal anesthesia and doesn’t require a hospital stay. While this usually results in immediate relief, true recovery can still take months after surgery.
Your Legal Rights If You Suffer from CTS
If you’ve sustained CTS from repetitive stress on the job, you may have the right to compensation through a workers’ comp claim. You’ll have to be able to demonstrate that the symptoms you’re experiencing are indicative of carpal tunnel syndrome, and that you obtained the condition through conditions in your normal job duties. These types of cases can be difficult, and that’s why we strongly advise everyone to have an experienced Martin County workers’ comp attorney on their side. Having a representative fight for you and your rights throughout your case can make sure that you receive the treatment you need in order to manage the pain and discomfort and get the rest your body needs in order to recover.
If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome through the nature of your work,call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 for a case evaluation. We may be able to help you get the results you need from your workers’ compensation case.