I’ve had a big interest in carpal tunnel cases during my legal career. My first trial involved a carpal tunnel claim.  And these cases in general can be interesting because they are often fought by the insurance company but usually winnable. Here are 20 facts, in no particular order, about Illinois work comp carpal tunnel claims. If you have any questions or want to speak with a lawyer for free, call us at 888-705-1766.

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is an injury to a passage way in your wrists that houses the main nerve to your hand.  When tissues in that passage way get inflamed, it causes pressure on the nerves.  The nerve that gets damaged is called the median nerve and is responsible for feeling in the palm side of the thumb and most fingers.
  2. The main symptoms of CTS are numbness, tingling, and pain in your hand and/or thumb, and pain that goes from the hand up the arm. Over time, it can lead to weakness in your hand if not treated properly.
  3. Most work related carpal tunnel claims are a result of repetitive actions like typing, frequent use of hands on assembly line or other heavy use activities.
  4. Some CTS injuries are caused by one time incidents, usually involving blunt force to your hand or wrist.
  5. To win an Illinois work comp case for an injury like this, you don’t have to show that your job was the only factor or even major factor. You just have to prove your employment activities were a contributing factor.
  6. Proof is typically provided by an orthopedic doctor. They will state in writing that your job caused, aggravated or accelerated your condition.
  7. To make the opinion of a doctor more credible, it’s important that they have a detailed description of your job duties including how often you work, how long you’ve been doing your job, the specific activities you perform, how many minutes in a row you do them, the force applied on your wrists while working, the weight lifted, etc.
  8. Carpal tunnel can be hereditary or present in people who are obese, diabetic, pregnant or have thyroid issues. It is also more common in women than in men.
  9. Treatment for carpal tunnel can include rest, a brace, physical therapy or surgery.
  10. The success rate for CTS surgery is very high and usually the recovery time is four weeks or less.
  11. If left untreated, carpal tunnel can lead to permanent damage in your thumbs and wrist.
  12. In 2011, Illinois workers’ compensation laws were amended to limit the amount a worker can recover for a carpal tunnel injury if they make a complete recovery.
  13. The new laws were in response to claims brought by southern Illinois prison workers that they had wrist injuries from continually pulling heavy doors. Someone wrote a news article alleging abuse of the system and the law was enacted as a compromise when reforms were put in to place.
  14. Carpal tunnel is typically diagnosed with a simple study called an EMG which is a nerve conduction study.
  15. The EMG can be noraml and CTS can still be there although usually the study is pretty accurate.
  16. The best way to prevent carpal tunnel is frequent breaks, proper positioning of the wrists and rotating jobs.
  17. Of course saying it can be prevented is easier said than done. If your employer isn’t supportive then most prevention steps won’t work in reality.
  18. If your carpal tunnel isn’t fixed with surgery and you have permanent restrictions, your employer will have to provide work within your restrictions.
  19. Insurance companies will hire IME doctors to examine you and discuss if your condition is work related. There is one notorious doctor who almost always says that the CTS isn’t from work and leads to the insurance company denying benefits.
  20. Because of these hired gun doctors, these cases often go to trial. They are very winnable in most cases, but it’s important that you have an aggressive attorney in your corner who is experienced with taking cases to trial. Any lawyer with less than ten years experience is not the right law firm for you in our opinion.

I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any questions or want to speak with an attorney, please contact us any time.