Carpal tunnel syndrome in the workplace

Thousands of workers in Minnesota and across the U.S. suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It starts with numbness or tingling in their hands one day, and gets progressively more painful as time passes. Some professions have higher instances of carpal tunnel syndrome among those who work in them, and people should be aware of what carpal tunnel syndrome is and the jobs that put them at higher risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of repetitive strain injury affecting the medial nerve in the hands. The medial nerve runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand. The nerve governs sensations to the thumb and all fingers except the little finger on the palm side. The median nerve is surrounded by ligaments and bones at the base of the hand, which is called the carpal tunnel. When the carpal tunnel is irritated and swells, it pinches the median nerve, causing tingling, burning or other pain in the hands.

Job duties and carpal tunnel syndrome

Many people have jobs that involve repetitive motions, which could put them at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. People who type or use keypads, operate vibrating power tools, use tools that twist such as ratchets, handle objects on conveyor belts, assemble items with small pieces, use spray guns or scrub are at risk for developing carpel tunnel syndrome, or making their existing carpal tunnel syndrome worse.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most common professions where instances of carpal tunnel syndrome occur include:

  • Institutional or cafeteria cooks
  • Electrical power line installers
  • Painters, construction and maintenance workers
  • Highway maintenance workers
  • Cutters, welders, braziers and solderers

Carpel tunnel syndrome is also common among those who do clerical work and data entry due to the large amount of typing in these roles.

Workers' compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome

Those who work in professions that cause them to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, or aggravate existing carpal tunnel syndrome conditions, may think that they have no options other than to suffer the pain while at work or finding a new job that does not aggravate their conditions. However, Minnesota employers have an obligation to provide benefits for those who are injured while working. Those who develop carpal tunnel syndrome or whose conditions worsen as a result of their job duties may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to help them recover their out-of-pocket payments for medical bills, lost wages from time off of work and even retraining for a new position.

If you have questions about workers' compensation benefits, speak with a skilled Minnesota workers' compensation attorney who can discuss the benefits for which you may be eligible with you.