Work-related injuries can involve strain associated with repetitive stress over long period’s time. Though many don’t view repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, as severe; they can still significantly impact your job performance
Repetitive stress injuries also affect your ability to enjoy personal activities. The repetitive strain affects soft tissues: muscles, nerves, tendons or ligaments in the back, wrists, hands or other body parts.
Though not limited to just work activities, some routines and repetitive actions often cause people to suffer these injuries at work.
- Continuous typing or working at a computer
- Repeatedly lifting equipment, merchandise or boxes
- Loading or unloading trucks
- Repetitive movements on an assembly line
The carpal tunnel syndrome should be treated as early as possible once symptoms appear. Those with mild carpal tunnel syndrome can usually heal themselves through the following.
- Taking multiple small breaks through the day to rest between repetitious movements
- Avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms
- Applying cold packs to reduce occasional swelling
But if there is no improvement in a few weeks, non-surgical medical treatment is the logical next step if you’ve had only mild to moderate symptoms for less than a year.
Nonsurgical Therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If diagnosed early, nonsurgical carpal tunnel syndrome treatments may include this list.
- Wrist splints: Usually worn while sleeping, wrist splints immobilize your wrist to relieve nighttime symptoms of tingling and numbness.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may bring short term relief for carpal tunnel syndrome pain. But there is little evidence they improve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms or its underlying conditions.
- Corticosteroids: Your doctor may inject your affected carpal tunnel syndrome area with cortisone to relieve pain. Such corticosteroids reduce the inflammation and swelling, which eases the pain by relieving pressure on the median nerve. Oral steroids offer less relief than direct cortisone injections to the affected area.
If carpal tunnel syndrome pain is associated with underlying inflammation because of rheumatoid arthritis, treating that condition may reduce carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. There is, however, no current research that clearly proves this. Some arthritis patients report such relief.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Surgery
For persistent or severe carpal tunnel syndrome problems after nonsurgical therapy, surgery may be appropriate to relieve pressure on your median nerve by cutting the ligament that is pressing the nerve.
There are two different techniques in carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.
- Endoscopic surgery: Your surgeon uses a telescope-like device with a tiny camera attached to it (endoscope) to see and cut the ligament through one or two small incisions in your hand or wrist.
- Open surgery: The surgeon makes a larger incision in the palm of your hand and cuts through the hand’s ligament to free the nerve. Recent modifications to this procedure use a smaller incision, often reducing the risk of complications.
Endoscopic surgery usually results in less pain than open surgery immediately after the procedure. As the ligament and surrounding tissues heal, they gradually fuse together and allow more room for the nerve.
After recovery from the surgery, it is not unusual for some patients to require brief occupational or physical therapy to return to their previous job performance level. In some cases, surgery might not eliminate symptoms of serious carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Workers’ Comp
Iowa workers’ compensation covers all carpal tunnel syndrome medical treatments when the condition can be attributed to a work-related injury. But in the past, employers and their workers’ comp insurance providers have questioned whether a carpal tunnel syndrome injury is work-related.
So it might be a good idea to contact the Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation to understand your options before seeking treatment through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
Employees recovering using workers’ comp in Iowa for carpal tunnel syndrome may run into some problems securing all their funds or returning to work. Walker, Billingsley and Bair handle workers’ compensation claims and can protect rights of injured workers as they heal. Contact us today at (888) 436-9979.