Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of pain in the wrist and hand. While ultimately it is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome can result from conditions like arthritis, fractures, or sometimes even from work-related injuries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is of course not the only cause of pain in the hand and wrist, and it can sometimes be mimicked by other common conditions – so it’s important to understand the top 5 signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. Of course, getting a proper diagnosis from a doctor is critical to accurately pinpointing the cause of your hand or wrist pain.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand, surrounded by bones and ligaments. Inside the carpal tunnel lies the median nerve. The median nerve runs from the forearm through the carpal tunnel in the wrist and provides sensation to the thumb and fingers on the palm side of the hand. When the median nerve is compressed, carpal tunnel syndrome can occur.
Many times, there is no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Wrist fractures can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can swelling or inflammation of the area. Other times, carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by workplace computer-related injuries.
Workplace Factors for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you work with vibrating tools, on an assembly line, on a computer using a keyboard or a mouse, or in any kind of work that requires prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist, you may be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. This can be exacerbated if you work in a cold environment.
The 5 Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are 5 key symptoms to look for if you suspect you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. They include:
- Pain in the wrist or hand
- Numbness in the thumb, pointer, middle, and ring fingers
- Tingling in the tumb, pointer, middle and ring fingers
- A weak grip
- A tendency to drop things from the affected hand
Symptoms are often worse at night, but can also appear over the course of the day.
Can You Sue for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
If you developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to the manner of your work, you may be entitled to financial compensation, such as workers compensation. It is also possible that you may be able to sue your employer for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That’s because in some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can actually lead to long term disability.
How Do You Prove Carpal Tunnel Is Work Related?
If you developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to the activities that are within the scope of your employment, you have cause to state that your carpal tunnel is work-related. That means your carpal tunnel syndrome must occur because of your work-related duties, or that your carpal tunnel syndrome got much worse because of your work-related duties. Even if carpal tunnel syndrome develops slowly over time, if it is due to the nature of your work, it is work-related.
What Conditions Mimic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Other conditions may mimic carpal tunnel syndrome as well by causing pain in the hands. These include:
- Arthritis or arthritic conditions
If we remember the 5 signs of carpal tunnel, we can see that carpal tunnel syndrome also causes numbness and tingling, as well as a weak grip. Arthritic conditions typically do not cause numbness or tingling, but rather, they cause stiffness and swelling along with pain. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor to receive a definitive diagnosis.
When To Contact a Lawyer if You Have Work-Related Signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is generally treatable, if caught early. However, if left untreated, the damage to the median nerve may become permanent. People who are exposed to repetitive stress injuries on the job may often not realize, or work through the pain when carpal tunnel first begins to show up, leading to permanent injury.
If you are forced to take a leave from work to recover, or are permanently unable to return to your pre-injury job due to carpal tunnel syndrome that occurred as a result of your work-related duties, you have rights. Contact the experienced Pennsylvania workers compensation lawyers at Thistle Law to discuss your case today with a free consultation by calling us at (215) 525-6824 or via our contact form.