Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and MN Workers' Comp.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common work-related injuries we see in our Minnesota workers’ compensation law practice. Carpal tunnel syndrome is not only painful, but it can interfere with your ability to do your job. 

If your work activities substantially contributed to your development of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be eligible for Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and rehabilitation benefits.

In Minnesota, when carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a worker’s day-to-day activities, or where it develops over time as a result of an employee’s work, it is known as a repetitive motion injury, or a Gillette-type injury.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation cases involving carpal tunnel syndrome are also very commonly disputed by workers’ compensation insurance companies. Rather than acknowledging that your work activities contributed to the development of your condition, the workers’ compensation insurance company will usually try to point to some other cause, such as obesity, diabetes, or no cause at all.

In fact I’ve seen a number of independent medical examiners simply conclude that females over the age of 40 are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, and that therefore, the workers’ job activities are not a substantial contributing factor to her carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. This pressure causes sensations of tingling, numbness, pain, and/or weakness in parts of your hand.

Things that can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
  • Repetitive or forceful hand and wrist movements that cause the membranes surrounding the tendons to swell putting pressure on the median nerve. 
  • Work that requires awkward positioning of the hands or wrists for long periods can also put pressure on the median nerve or cause swelling of the tendons. 
  • Work activities that cause hand-arm vibration for long periods can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  •  Broken wrist bones, dislocated bones, new bone growth or bone spurs can put pressure on the median nerve.
  • Conditions or illnesses that cause swelling in the joints and soft tissues, or restricted blood flow to the hands, such as obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes, lupus, or hypothyroidism can result in pressure on the median nerve. 
  • Buildup of fluid, or edema, in the carpal tunnel, caused by pregnancy or conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, can put extra pressure on the median nerve. 
  • Smoking may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome by affecting blood flow to the median nerve. 
If you’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of your work activities, a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can help protect your rights. For a free no-obligation case consultation call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email. 


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