What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects your hand and forearm. It is an injury caused by doing the same (repetitive) motion over and over, which compresses an important nerve in the arm (the median nerve) and tendons in the fingers. Over time, this compression can cause pain, weakness, tingling or burning sensations, and numbness to occur in your hand, wrist, and fingers. It’s more than just painful—it can make it difficult or impossible to properly grip objects, type on a computer, use a mouse, or complete other manual tasks.
If treated early, carpal tunnel syndrome can improve with rest and avoiding movements that cause the swelling. But without treatment, surgery may be required. So if you think you’re developing carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t wait until it’s too late.
What are common workplace causes?
Carpal tunnel syndrome often affects workers in jobs with lots of small wrist and hand movements, such as:
- Computer/data entry workers (due to frequent typing and mouse use)
- Factory assembly line workers
- Professional drivers (including truck and bus drivers)
Is carpal tunnel syndrome an “accident” or “occupational disease,” and does it even count as a workplace injury?
Under Illinois state law, carpal tunnel syndrome does qualify for workers’ compensation. Some states require a specific injury date, but Illinois makes a distinction between accidents and occupational diseases, and both are eligible for compensation. This means you may receive payment for all medical expenses incurred by carpal tunnel syndrome (including physical therapy, splints, and surgery), even if you can’t think of the date the pain began.
Besides payment for medical expenses, you also may be able to receive permanent partial disability payments if the pain limits your work and you’ve lost income. PPD payments for carpal tunnel syndrome can range from 6 months to more than a year.
In some cases, if your work depends on your ability to repeat the motion causing carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be eligible for temporary total disability payments. Compensation can vary on a case-by-case basis, so it’s important your employer considers your specific medical circumstances when establishing what you’re entitled to.
What do I need to prove my case?
Unlike an accident, carpal tunnel syndrome develops over time, and a specific incident of trauma is usually impossible to pinpoint. But compensation can begin when you have reported your injury to your employer.
It can be difficult to prove that your carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by your job. While repetitive motion is the most common cause, age, gender (carpal tunnel is more common among women), weight, trauma, arthritis, disease, pregnancy, and diabetes can also be causes. Be sure to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to get the benefits you deserve.
If you’ve got questions about carpal tunnel syndrome and how you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, call the Epstein Law Firm at 773-522-7000. We’ll let you know what you’re entitled to, and what your next steps should be.
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