Have I got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Most of us have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome but what exactly is it?
Also known as CTS, it is a painful condition due to compression of the median nerve connecting the wrist to the hand and fingers. The carpal tunnel protects this nerve and is found on the palm side of the wrist. When the nerve is compressed, it can cause CTS symptoms such as reduced movement, tingling, numbness or pain in the wrist and fingers.
How did I get it?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome arises from inflammation and swelling of the tendon area in the wrist. This is usually caused by repetitive action or vibration. It is often caused by actions carried out in the workplace. If your job role consists of manual and/or repetitive work involving the hands and wrists, or you have used vibratory tools, it is possible that this is the cause of your carpal tunnel.
CTS can also be caused by constitutional factors such as diabetes, poor health, pregnancy, obesity, family history or hypothyroidism. Inflammation due to any of the above factors causes blood vessels in the surrounding to expand and put pressure on the median nerve.
If you suffer from pain and discomfort in the wrist, or tingling and numbness, you should visit your GP.
Impact of CTS
As well as causing pain and discomfort, CTS can have a big impact on a person’s life. Not only could it affect a sufferer’s job, it can make day-to-day tasks more difficult or even impossible. Whilst typing on a computer could be more difficult, playing sports or doing DIY could become completely out of the question.
Will it get better?
If you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome you may be offered a variety of treatments including physiotherapy and injections to alleviate the symptoms. A CTS release operation however treats the cause of the disease rather than alleviating the symptoms and is usually done on a day patient basis. This however is usually a treatment of last resort after other treatments have failed.
Avoiding the condition
Your employer has a duty of care to protect you from harm in the workplace. If you perform repetitive tasks, carry heavy loads, grip items strongly or use vibratory tools, your employer should monitor and adjust your environment to keep you safe. Speak to your HR department and ask for an individual risk assessment. If necessary, your employer should implement a job rotation system whereby repetitive tasks are shared. They can also provide training so you are more aware of how to protect yourself.
Employer failed to protect vulnerable worker
Roberts Jackson’s team of lawyers specialising in musculoskeletal problems recently acted for an employee of a textile company in Bradford. She was employed as a Fabric Cutter and Warping Technician, involving working on a spinning machine tying yarns onto cones. This client, from Huddersfield, was born with Polydactyly (a condition where she had extra digits in her hands). Although she had an operation to remove the extra digits, this made her hands more vulnerable. Despite being aware of this, her employer did not take this into account and the employee was given repetitive work and her job role was never rotated. Despite complaining to management after developing symptoms, no real solution was provided; her complaints were largely ignored.
She suffered with tingling sensations in her hands and wrists when she was at work, driving or trying to sleep. In the colder months her hands became stiff and more painful. She wore wrist splints to assist with her symptoms and underwent physiotherapy. Since stopping the textile work her symptoms have improved and she now works as a sales assistant. She won £6,000 in compensation.
Her lawyer, Fatima Bibi, said of the case:
“Although not usually a long-term serious condition, CTS can significantly impact a person’s daily life. Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and not only do they need to take into account injuries or disabilities, they need to perform work station risk assessments for all employees. There are hundreds of jobs where carpal tunnel syndrome is a big risk like assembly lines, cleaning, food processing, forestry work and data entry. If anyone has concerns they should speak to their employer and GP as early as possible.”
Can I claim compensation for my Carpal Tunnel?
If you believe that your occupation has caused your symptoms either by exposure to repetition or vibration then you should get medical and legal advice without delay. There are strict time limits on making a claim in CTS cases.
For further information on making carpal tunnel syndrome claims through Roberts Jackson, contact us to speak with one of our specialist solicitors.