Suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is painful and can have a ripple effect on your daily life. Not only will it impact your work, like typing and driving, but it can also impact your free time, like reading, gaming, and sports. At its worst, it can also affect your quality of sleep.
Work-related carpal tunnel syndrome injuries are so common that it is now legally recognised under industrial diseases. If you are a CTS sufferer and you suspect that your working environment was the cause of your injury, you may be eligible to make a compensation claim.
Carpal tunnel syndrome claims can compensate you for the pain and numbness that you may be experiencing and cover any out-of-pocket expenses you have faced as a result. This guide aims to walk you through the process of making a carpal tunnel syndrome claim. But first, let’s take a look at what exactly carpal tunnel syndrome is and how you can diagnose it.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel runs on the palm side of your hand and is surrounded by bones and ligaments that house the median nerve. The median nerve controls the motion of your hands and fingers, and when the nerve is compressed, it can cause numbness or pain in the surrounding area.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS for short, is a type of repetitive strain injury. It is caused by repeated pressure on this nerve and can be an extremely painful condition.
Indeed, the disease is increasingly common, but it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. As mentioned, the pain can affect everyday activities like writing and reading. It is not uncommon for the pain to flare up at night either, so you can kiss a good night’s sleep goodbye.
What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?
Like any injury, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can vary wildly, but it starts gradually and worsens over time as a general rule of thumb. Some of the symptoms include;
- Weakness in your hands or difficulty gripping – Thanks to the numbness caused by the pinching nerve, you may find it hard to grip something tightly, or to hold something without dropping it.
- Aches and pain in your fingers, hand, or arm – Typically, the pain will be localised to your thumb, index, and middle fingers. It is not uncommon for the whole hand to be affected up to the forearm, or even higher.
- Pins and needles – You know that tingly, numb feeling when you accidentally cut of blood supply to a limb? Carpal tunnel feels like that, especially at night.
Your dominant hand is usually the first to be affected before the symptoms become more severe. In extreme cases, the injury can prevent you from moving or using your hand fully, which will naturally hamper your livelihood.
What are the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome?
The name can be misleading. CTS is actually a combination of factors that put a strain on the median nerve rather than the carpal tunnel itself. Nonetheless, other underlying medical conditions can cause carpal syndrome naturally.
For instance, some people suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy due to water retention. An overactive pituitary gland or underactive thyroid gland can also contribute to carpal tunnel.
When it comes to work-related injuries, however, the common culprit is repetitive hand or wrist movements. The following repeated actions can instigate a carpal tunnel injury;
- Frequent heavy lifting
- Forceful or repeated bending at the wrist
- Using vibrating or power tools
- Prolonged periods of typing
How long does a carpal tunnel injury take to develop?
This really varies from individual to individual. The onset can appear suddenly after a few days or after years, depending on the strain of the repetition.
According to studies, workers who are most at risk are telephone operators, food servers, and assembly production workers.
Women are also more prone to develop this kind of injury compared to men. Statistically speaking, the likelihood of suffering from a carpal tunnel syndrome injury is highest in the 45 to 54 years demographic.
What carpal tunnel syndrome treatments are available?
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome should ideally begin as soon as possible after a positive diagnosis (by a medical professional, not Google). Depending on your injury, treatment can include surgical or non-surgical options. Let’s first consider less invasive, non-surgical procedures;
- Splints or braces worn at night
- Avoiding repetitive wrist and hand activities (your doctor will understand that this can be difficult in your line of work)
- Non-prescription anti-inflammatory medication to manage the pain. Corticosteroids can also be injected directly into the affected area.
Again, treatment depends on the severity of the injury. While non-surgical treatments can help you recuperate, on average, 36% of carpal tunnel syndrome injuries require ongoing treatment.
This brings us to a more permanent solution – surgery;
Surgery to treat carpal tunnel syndrome can be further broken down into two treatment options.
- Open release surgery is the more traditional option. Under local sedation, you will have an incision of about two inches in your wrist going into the carpal ligament to enlarge the “tunnel.” This is generally done on an outpatient basis if there are no underlying complications.
- Endoscopic surgery involves two incisions of about half an inch each in the wrist and palm. The surgeon will then insert a camera to take a closer look at the nerves and tendons. Based on their observation, they will cut the ligament with a tiny knife that is inserted through the same camera tube. These ligaments will grow back and allow for more space in the carpal tunnel.
Endoscopic treatments provide more instant relief than the traditional method, but there is also a higher risk of complications. Full recovery can take months, and if there is any infection or nerve damage, there may be a need for follow-up surgery.
As with any form of surgery, there is always a recovery period. You will most likely need to take some time off work to recuperate, and your personal injury solicitor will take all of this into account when handling your compensation claim.
Can I make a claim against my employer for a carpel tunnel injury?
At first glance, it can be difficult to tell if someone is at fault for your injury. This is where your personal injury solicitor comes in to guide you and take care of your claim.
Because of the nature of certain jobs, work-related carpal tunnel syndrome accidents are commonplace. Many employees don’t realise this, but your employer has a legal obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent carpal tunnel injuries. Part and parcel with this is to ensure that;
- You are properly trained to use any equipment, including laptops and desktops.
- Provide you with all the equipment you need to carry out your job. If you work in an office, your chair should be fully adjustable to encourage the right posture.
- Allow regular breaks
- Control the temperature. Carpal tunnel injuries are more prone to occur in colder environments.
If you are suffering from CTS and feel that your employer was negligent in their duties, you could be eligible to make a carpal tunnel syndrome claim. An experienced personal injury solicitor can help you get the support and compensation you need.
How much compensation can I claim for carpal tunnel syndrome?
Like any personal injury claim, the amount of compensation you could receive for a carpal tunnel injury will depend on various factors. Your solicitor will consider the causes, extent of the negligence, and the severity of your injuries.
The amount will ultimately be determined by the expenses you have faced due to the injury, the impact it has on your life and the cost of further treatment. In addition, a medical expert may find that the condition will impact you for life without surgery.
Your solicitor will fight in your corner to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve, and are not left impacted or paying for treatment out of pocket.
Contrary to popular belief, your employer will not foot the bill for a successful personal injury compensation claim – your solicitor will negotiate a good settlement agreement between you and your employer’s insurance company.
You can also either agree to have the insurance company take care of future medical expenses (relating to the injury, of course), or take a payout in cash equivalent to future medical expenses. The amount of compensation you receive will also depend on the treatment needed, as we covered earlier on.
Medical expenses and future medical expenses aside, your compensation can include;
- Temporary disability benefits that can cover loss of income
- Permanent disability benefits to take care of future loss of income
- Job displacement benefits in case you cannot return to work
How do I make a carpal tunnel syndrome claim?
If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, the first step is to reach out to a personal injury solicitor if you suspect that someone else is responsible for your injury. They will evaluate your case through a series of questions before advising you on the next step.
To speed things along, gather as much evidence for your claim as you can to better equip your solicitor. This could include;
- A list of symptoms, and when it first started
- If the injury has been diagnosed, and if so, when that was
- The effects it has had on your life
- Whether or not your employer was made aware of the injury, and if they made any adjustments
- A description of the equipment you use, or your workstation
- A detailed job description
- How long you’ve been employed
Your solicitor will also arrange for an independent medical assessment to verify your condition to strengthen your claim. Then, your solicitor will have to prove that the onus falls on your employer and that they have breached their duty towards you. As you can see, gathering evidence in advance will really help your case.
How long do I have to make a carpal tunnel injury claim?
As with most personal injury claims, you have three years from the injury to make a claim. After this period, you will be time-barred.
Now, it is worth mentioning that the law makes some exceptions to carpal tunnel syndrome claims, as these injuries can take some time to manifest. In this particular case, your three year period will start from the date of “knowledge”, or rather once you became aware of the injury.
If you experience any of the symptoms we’ve discussed, it is best to reach out to a solicitor sooner rather than later. Don’t wait for the symptoms while the clock is ticking.
Find out if you can make a carpal tunnel claim today!
Many CTS victims are not aware that they are even eligible to make a carpal tunnel compensation claim. Proving negligence in carpal tunnel injuries is not as clear-cut as other personal injury claims, and you will need the expertise of an experienced personal injury solicitor to bat for you.
The first step is to discuss your claim with a trained legal adviser. They will discuss with you your injury and the circumstances that caused it. If they feel you may have grounds to pursue a claim, they will connect you with an experienced solicitor.
The solicitor will assess your claim and determine if you are eligible to receive compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome. If they can help, they will handle your case from start to finish on a no win no fee basis.
No win no fee means there are no upfront costs to start your claim, and if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t pay a penny. You will only pay a fee if you win your claim, and this fee is capped at a maximum of 25% of the compensation awarded.
To get started, call 0800 678 1410 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, enter your details here, and a representative will call you back, free of charge, to consult you on your potential personal injury claim.