Carpal Tunnel and Workers’ Comp: Do You Have a Claim?

Updated July 2022

Many workers are susceptible to repetitive stress injuries (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome because they spend most of their time working on a keyboard and with a mouse. Other lines of work make employees susceptible to the same injury, such as using a cash register, and pushing, slicing or pressing objects over an extended length of time and without a sufficient break or ample rest.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal Tunnel often develops over time. When tissue around your wrist becomes irritated and inflamed, pressure is put on the median nerve. The median nerve extends from your wrist to your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers or hand. Some people may have pain in their arm between their hand and their elbow.

The following are some symptoms that may develop in your hands, fingers and wrists as a result of carpal tunnel:

  • Pain (ranging from intense to dull)
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Weak grip
  • Clumsiness
  • Loss of fine motor coordination

Carpal tunnel can be somewhat unpredictable as the symptoms may not show up right away. For example, you may suddenly find it difficult to do routine tasks. This condition can also intensify over time, so it’s important to have it diagnosed right away so that the appropriate treatment can begin.

Depending on the severity of the problem, some carpal tunnel treatments may include:

  • Wearing a splint
  • Medication (to reduce inflammation and swelling)
  • Surgery

Who usually gets carpal tunnel?

Jobs that involve performing repetitive stretching, bending, twisting or striking motions can put employees at risk of developing carpal tunnel.

Employees commonly affected by carpal tunnel include:

  • Clerical and data-entry workers
  • Assembly line workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Butchers
  • Chefs
  • Professional drivers
  • Musicians

Women are twice as likely as men to develop this health problem, and the risk increases with age. Some non-work-related factors are also associated with higher carpal tunnel rates. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid problems
  • Obesity

What should you do if you get carpal tunnel as a result of your job?

In some cases, workers who develop carpal tunnel can receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, because this condition develops over time and not from a specific injury, trying to prove you have a carpal tunnel workers’ comp claim is not always a simple process.

Under the New York State workers’ comp system, and indeed, in most states, the onus falls on you, the employee, to prove that your carpal tunnel syndrome was a result of job-related duties and not some outside factor.

It may be difficult to prove, but if you have the right people fighting for you and the proof of professional medical providers, it is possible. In some cases where you have a pre-existing condition, you may still be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits if you can prove your job duties made the problem worse.

It is also important to seek medical help immediately should you notice carpal tunnel symptoms.

If you, or someone you know, are suffering as a result of work-induced carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation lawyers at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti LLP have been handling workers’ comp cases for over 25 years. To see if you have a valid claim, please give us a call at 1-800-LAW-1010 (800-529-1010) or contact us by email by filling out the form here.