Many job duties require repetitive motions of the hand and wrist. This is common for cashiers, construction workers and factory workers. Unfortunately, not all employers take steps that minimize the stress on their employees.
One repetitive motion injury that might occur is carpal tunnel syndrome. This can make doing almost everything more difficult if it involves your hand. What starts off as a minor nuisance can lead to a problem that requires surgery.
The root of the problem
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve has pressure put on it by the transverse carpal ligament. This can lead to numbness and loss of use of the impacted hand. Often, the problem starts with the thumb and index finger. As the issue progresses, other fingers might be affected.
Sometimes, carpal tunnel is caused because of swelling of tissues in the tunnel, but it is also possible that it will occur due to a narrowing of the tunnel. In either case, there are treatments that can help if the condition hasn’t progressed too far.
Seeking medical care
Because carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a cumulative trauma injury, is a condition that shows up slowly and gets worse over time, you should take action as soon as you notice that there is something wrong. A doctor can do testing to determine whether there is a carpal tunnel issue. If there is, you might be able to have non-surgical treatments. These can include activity changes, medication to control inflammation, nerve gliding exercises, steroid injections or bracing.
Once the problem gets severe, surgery is usually necessary. There are two methods possible so the doctor will have to determine which works for the situation. As you heal from the surgery, you may find that your movements in the impacted hand are limited. Your grip will likely be affected for at least six months after surgery, but may never return to what it was prior to the problem.
No matter what type of treatment is used, you might have to take off work while it heals. This can mean that you have a loss of income while you heal. Add this to the cost of receiving medical care and you can see why workers’ compensation in these cases would be necessary.