A very nice woman called in to my office.  She worked on an assembly line and noticed her hands were hurting at the end of her shift.  She took some Tylenol and worked through the pain.

As time passed, her pain got worse.  One morning she woke up and her hands were swollen. She also had some numbness and tingling.

She told her employer about and some co-workers.  One co-worker told her that she had carpal tunnel syndrome. Apparently that worker had the same problem two years ago.  He gave my caller advice on how to treat the problem including buying a splint and which over the counter medications could help her.

She bought the splint and the drugs and asked the employer to pay for it.  They turned it in to their insurance company who told her they would not pay for it. For once I agree with them.

You can not medically diagnose yourself and ask to be paid for any expenses you incur as a result.  Only a medical doctor can make a diagnosis for you and prescribe treatment.

I don’t like going to doctors either, but the most important thing to do if you are injured on the job is to see a physician. First it’s important for your health.  Second, if you want to make a claim for benefits, the only way you can do so is by showing medical treatment.  Self diagnosis and/or a diagnosis from a co-worker or friend is not acceptable evidence.

Finally, for injuries like this, the longer that they go untreated, the worse they will get. It does sound like she has carpal tunnel, but it’s also possible that there is a torn ligament or tendon in her hand or wrist or some other problem. It might go from something relatively minor to  a major problem that needs surgery if there is a delay in getting treatment.  This can also impact the ultimate recovery and when you can get back to work.

Her co-worker was well meaning and she herself is probably a bit naive. But I can’t emphasize enough.  If you are hurt while working, get to the doctor, tell them what happened and see what they have to say.  It’s the best and safest thing you can do.