In North Carolina, people who suffer injuries at work may have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. The law also extends eligibility for benefits to those who suffer from occupational conditions related to their jobs.
This catch-all provision covers conditions or diseases that develop because of circumstances specifically related to the worker’s type of job or work environment. Generally, this means your job increases your risk of a particular condition so that you become more likely to develop it than someone who does not work at your job.
Carpal tunnel syndrome numbers among some common conditions that arise due to performing work duties. While many people think of carpal tunnel syndrome as primarily an office worker’s condition resulting from typing, it can develop whenever a worker must perform repetitive wrist motions such as cutting.
This condition most commonly happens because of pressure on the median nerve, which passes through the wrist. As the nerve becomes compressed, you may experience tingling and numbness in your hand, which may sometimes spread to your arm. You may also develop weakness in your hand, which can stop you from effectively gripping and holding objects. In the long term, this condition can seriously affect work performance, daily life and sleep.
Options for treatment
After diagnosis, your doctor may recommend taking frequent breaks and avoiding working with your hands. This can be a problem for workers whose job mostly consists of work that could cause further damage. Other non-surgical treatment options might include splinting, anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid injections. These treatments typically do not work for those with severe or prolonged symptoms; in such cases, surgery may offer the best recourse.
Why you may need legal help
Insurance companies may try to claim that your carpal tunnel syndrome resulted from other causes, such as pre-existing arthritis or inflammation, rather than your job duties. In the meantime, you may need benefits to cover time off from work as well as treatments.