If you are a Massachusetts worker whose work entails repetitive action involving the hands, you may start to experience pain in your wrist and hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is compressed. This is the nerve that runs from your forearm through your wrist into your hand. The median nerve relays messages that allow you to move muscles around the base of the thumb. If anything crowds or compresses this nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, the swelling can irritate and crowd the nerve, causing symptoms.
Other risk factors can increase the likelihood that you develop carpal tunnel syndrome in response to repetitive work. Among these are smaller carpal tunnels (an anatomical issue), gender (women are more likely to develop it), inflammatory or other medical conditions like obesity and kidney failure, and fluid retention. Studies conflict as to whether work conditions all by themselves can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. However, anecdotally, a number of people with risk factors who work long hours as computer scientists or journalists do develop carpal tunnel syndrome and experience fading symptoms when the work is reduced or more breaks are taken.
If you experience symptoms in your wrist and hand, you should see a physician as soon as possible. He or she may conduct a physical exam, testing the feeling in your fingers and your muscle strength. He may also take an X-ray. He may also conduct an electromyography test or nerve conduction study. Your doctor might also refer you to a specialist, if it seems like another medical disorder is causing the compression of your nerve.
Though it is best to see a doctor right away to start therapies and obtain relief, there are some things you can do to ease carpal tunnel syndrome without seeing a doctor. For example, you can rest your wrists and hands more often and stretch them during breaks. You can use cold or icepacks to reduce any inflammation. Over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen or Advil can also be helpful.
The doctor can provide more serious relief. He can offer you medications, fit you with a split and perform surgery in severe cases. Getting a good splint can be useful because it holds your wrist still while you sleep. This gets rid of symptoms like tingling. A doctor can also give you a corticosteroid injection to reduce the swelling and pressure. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist, which can be of particular benefit after you get pain relief. The physical therapist will use an ultrasound and teach you stretching and various exercises that can strengthen and bring relief to the affected area.
For extreme cases, surgeries can be appropriate. A surgeon can perform an endoscopic surgery, which is done with a special device that holds a miniature camera. Alternatively, he may perform an open surgery. In this case, he cut an incision in the palm of your hand, cutting through the ligament to free the nerve. When it heals, the ligament tissue will grow back, but such that the nerve will have more room.
If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome because of repetitive on-the-job actions, such as typing or job tasks associated with manufacturing, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you are hurt at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate whether you have a sound claim and fight to make sure that your employer and its insurer follow the rules. Contact us by calling 800-367-0871 or using our online contact form.More Blog PostsSubmitting Additional Testimony in Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation, March 12, 2013
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