The pain of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, and has many causes:
- An office worker from using a computer mouse
- A supermarket clerk swiping and loading groceries
- A musician who spends many hours playing an instrument
- A factory worker cutting meat on a processing line
- A warehouse worker loading boxes all day
Carpal tunnel syndrome produces a sharp, numbing pain that affects the median nerve. The “tunnel” itself is a narrow passageway of bones and tendons. The median nerve runs from the forearm through the tunnel and into the palm of the hand. The nerve controls the sensations in the palm, side of the thumb and finger, and small muscles in the hand.
Irritated tendons can thicken or swell if the median nerve is compressed when contracted and/or squeezed. This is when sufferers will begin to experience weakness, numbness and pain in the hand or wrist. When it is really severe, that pain can radiate up the arm. The symptoms of carpal tunnel typically appear in either or both hands while sleeping. Someone dealing with carpal tunnel may awaken and feel the need to shake their hand to loosen it up or get the blood flowing. Ultimately, carpal tunnel can result in a decreased ability to grip small objects. And when carpal tunnel goes untreated, eventually muscles at the base of the thumb can deteriorate. Once that occurs, many people are unable to distinguish between hot and cold.
Diagnosing Repetitive Strain Injuries
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be diagnosed by a qualified physician. Physicians will generally rely on several tests for diagnosis.
During the Tinel test, the doctor will tap on or apply pressure to the median nerve in the patient’s wrist. The test will reveal a positive diagnosis when there is a tingling feeling in the fingers or shocking sensation.
The wrist flexion test involves the patient holding his or her forearm in an upright position. He or she will then point their fingers down and press the backs of the hands together. The presence of carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed when one or more symptoms is a tingling or feeling of numbness in the fingers after one minute.
Effectively treating carpal tunnel can be done either nonsurgically or with surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. But whichever the treatment, it can result in the inability to work and loss of wages. If you are suffering from carpal tunnel, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits. Qualifying for benefits relies heavily on your medical record and statements from the doctor. Disability benefits are not easy to get approved. There are a number of factors that will be considered.
Before filing a claim, it is important to know that disability benefits are not automatically awarded simply because you have the condition. They will research your work history and evaluate and approve benefits based on how long you have had the condition and to what extent it has affected your ability to work or function normally. If you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, contact an attorney to find out if you can qualify for social security disability or workers’ compensation benefits.