Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Louisiana?

Workers’ compensation benefits are a lifeline when physical strains, pains and weaknesses sideline you at work.

The benefits provide support for your medical care and assistance with your income if you can’t work. 

Limitation or loss of use of your hand, wrist or arm from carpal syndrome can qualify you for various levels of workers’ comp benefits, depending on the severity of your case.

Many kinds of injuries are covered by workers’ comp as long as the injuries resulted from work. But workers’ comp claims for carpal tunnel syndrome in Louisiana come with some special challenges and considerations.

Let’s look closer.

What Happens When You Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome results when the median nerve running through your wrist and hand is subjected to too much pressure and becomes compressed, according to medical experts at the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.

The carpal tunnel is a tube in the palm side of your hand that carries the median nerve. This nerve is what gives you feeling in much of your hand.

With carpal tunnel syndrome, you experience weakness in your hand, numbness and tingling.

It can even feel like electric shocks pulsing through your fingers. You may have trouble gripping objects.

Repetitive motion—a common feature of many jobs—can cause carpel tunnel syndrome. Working with vibrating tools or working long hours with a computer keyboard and mouse can create the kind of strain that leads to this disorder.

Other health problems can also contribute, such as fractures in the wrist, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, and diabetes and other diseases that can cause nerve damage.

The American College of Rheumatology says four to 10 million people in the United States have carpal tunnel syndrome at a given time, making it one of the most common nerve conditions.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counted more than 4,000 cases of carpal tunnel in 2019 that led to people missing work time.

How Does Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Address Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, carpal tunnel syndrome is an “occupational disease” that can qualify you for workers’ comp benefits.

The law defines an occupational disease as an illness caused by the particular conditions an employee faces at work.

Not every type of disease can count as an occupational disease. The law says arthritis, mental illness and heart disease, for example, aren’t occupational diseases.

But it says, “occupational disease shall include injuries due to work-related carpal tunnel syndrome.”

The Louisiana Workforce Commission lists several points to document in evaluating a work-related, carpal-tunnel case for the purposes of workers’ comp benefits:

  • History of symptoms like numbness, tingling and burning
  • Sleep disruption from carpal tunnel discomfort
  • Pain that spreads to the forearm, elbow and shoulder
  • Problems with clumsiness and dropping objects
  • A tendency to shake a hand for relief
  • Evidence of repetition in the workers’ job
  • Evidence of job conditions requiring forceful use of the hands
  • Evaluation of other health problems that may be contributing to carpal tunnel
  • Assessment of how carpal tunnel impacts daily living outside of work
  • Effects of the condition seen in sports or other recreational activities
  • Physical examinations finding sensory loss, weakness and other symptoms
  • Laboratory test results
  • Electro-diagnostic tests that measure electrical activity in nervesMedical imaging results

Because carpal tunnel syndrome develops over time instead of in a single, easy-to-identify traumatic incident, and because it’s often treatable with little work disruption, a workers’ comp claim for severe carpal tunnel syndrome in Louisiana comes with special challenges.

With an occupational disease like this, a workers’ comp insurance company may try to say you can’t prove that your injury happened specifically because of work. A workers’ comp claim requires your condition to be tied to your work.

You’ll also need to provide “objective findings” of your condition, which means evidence confirmed by someone else, like a medical provider, instead of relying on your own reports of pain and discomfort.

An experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer knows how to handle these challenges. Your attorney can gather the kinds of evidence you need and assemble it for a successful claim.

How Do I Get Workers’ Comp for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Louisiana?

As soon as you realize that your job has damaged your body or health, you should file a workers’ comp claim.

These are the essential steps:

  • Report your work-related carpal tunnel case to your employer.
  • Get a copy of the initial claims report that your employer is supposed to file.
  • Confirm that your employer has officially started your workers’ comp claim.
  • Go to a doctor to begin treating your condition and gathering the medical evidence you need for your claim.
  • Talk to a lawyer to make sure you are maximizing your benefits.

With a workers’ comp claim for carpal tunnel syndrome, you could receive several types of benefits: medical coverage for your treatment, reimbursement of expenses related to your medical care, weekly pay to replace some of your income when you can’t work, pay to supplement your income if you have to work in a reduced capacity for less money, and counseling to guide you back to work.

Depending on your case, you could receive a few of these benefits, or all of them. 

But this is where the workers’ comp system gets tricky. You don’t want to let an employer or insurance company lead you to believe you should accept less than the full benefits available. 

That’s why we recommend talking to a workers’ comp lawyer for a carpal tunnel case.

How Do I Take Care of My Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Health experts say you can prevent or alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome with proper posture, frequent breaks, applying less pressure in your tasks, changing the equipment you use and adjusting your workplace temperature. 

When your case is more severe, treatment can include exercises, heat treatment, wearing a splint, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery when the other treatments aren’t enough.

Carpal tunnel surgery aims to increase the size of the tunnel that your median nerve passes through, alleviating the stress on the nerve. The surgery has a high track record of success.

When conditions at work caused your carpal tunnel syndrome, all of your treatment should be covered by workers’ comp.

And your financial needs should also be covered, so your encounter with carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t disrupt everything else in your life.

To find out more about what you can do to get workers’ comp benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome in Louisiana, talk to the workers’ comp attorneys at Workers’ Compensation, LLC.

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