Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve injury caused by repetitive motion or stress. It can be a very painful condition that occurs among workers who use their hands to make repeated motions. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a legitimate basis for workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, a variety of factors are now making the approval of such claims more difficult. An experienced attorney, however, can advocate on behalf of injured workers to help ensure they receive the benefits they need and deserve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome involves the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the forearm to the palm, and controls sensations in the thumb and fingers (aside from the little finger) and impulses to some small hand muscles. The carpal tunnel itself is a rigid passageway at the bottom of the hand which houses tendons and the median nerve. Irritation can cause the tunnel to narrow and the median nerve to become compressed, resulting in pain, numbness or weakness.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel include tingling, numbness, burning or itching in the palm and fingers. The thumb, index and middle finger are most often affected. Symptoms may lead to difficulty grasping objects or forming a fist. In chronic cases those muscles at the bottom of the thumb may start wasting away.
Workers most at risk for carpal tunnel include those doing data entry, word processing or assembly line work.
When pain or numbness in your fingers, hands or arms prevents you from doing your job comfortably, you may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Carpal tunnel cases, however, often face challenges where the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can prove valuable.
Even though there has not been a change in the causation standard or medical science of carpal tunnel, the compensability of carpal tunnel claims seems to have diminished. This is likely due to a change in the political climate in the state of Illinois. Our office feels that arbitrators are denying claims and being pressured to rule in favor of insurance and business interests.
You still, however, have a right to pursue workers’ comp benefits based on a carpal tunnel injury and should not be deterred by the current political atmosphere. Insurance companies may fight your claim because they know repetitive stress injuries can be more difficult to establish. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can advocate on your behalf to help ensure your claim has the best chance for success possible. Lawyers may seek the opinion of medical experts and the doctors treating your condition to better understand your injury, the need for treatment and to provide as much evidence as possible to prove your case.