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Understanding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Almost everyone, from a construction worker to an office worker, uses their hands at work. Perhaps you do fine work such as repairing tiny electric components, lift and place repeatedly product onto store shelves, or simply type at a keyboard or register for long periods of time. What these workers may not be aware of is that many of them are at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an injury in which the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes damaged or compressed. This nerve is vital in providing a person’s ability to both feel sensations in and to move their hands, especially the areas of the thumb and fingers. As the nerve passes into the wrist and through a small set of ligaments and bones at the wrist, called the carpal tunnel, it can become pinched or compressed by any amount of swelling to the area. When this happens, it causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome range widely in intensity and combination from person to person. Symptoms include: numbness or tingling in the hand; pain or cramping; inability to grip items; inability to maintain precise movement of the hand; weakness and/or tremor; lessening of ability to tell hot/cold sensations; and thumb atrophy in serious cases. Additionally, some may experience sleeplessness, as it is common that pain occurs at night due to the flexing of hands that occurs during sleep.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can often be caused at work simply due to work that requires repeated use of the arm/hand, and is thus categorized as Repetitive Stress Injury. Even in low-impact work such as typing on keyboards, the continuous use of a person’s hands in the same position for extended periods of time often results in swelling and eventually carpal tunnel issues. Employers can help deter such injuries by providing ergonomic tools to workers such as keyboard tools or mouse to help maintain proper hand positioning, lower impact tools, or wrist supports to improve positioning and add strength.

There is no one sure way to cure carpal tunnel syndrome. Treatment effectiveness varies from person to person. Treatments include wearing wrist splints for correction and support; drugs such as anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and corticosteroids; exercise to increase muscle strength; and/or surgery for longer term or more severe cases.

Costs for sufferers can ultimately be high. Not only may they endure a high cost of medical treatment for the syndrome, they can face the cost of time-off from work due to pain, doctors’ appointments, and even an inability to correctly perform their work tasks. Fortunately for workers who are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome due to work performed on the job, their expenses may be covered by workers compensation. Contact a Chicago workers compensation attorney who can provide you with information and services in determining your eligibility for workers compensation coverage.

About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.

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