Many of us have experienced pain or tingling in our hands and wrists, perhaps after spending too much time on your smartphone, playing video games, or working with tools. In some cases, this pain and tingling are related to a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome — and it doesn’t go away after rest.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause a range of symptoms. It may even interfere with your ability to do basic things, like type, grip a pen or pencil, or lift and carry objects. If your carpal tunnel syndrome is so severe that it prevents you from working, you may be entitled to disability benefits.
Can you Get Disability Benefits for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Yes, there are disability benefits available for people with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Qualifying for long-term disability benefits can be challenging, as insurance companies often reject claims for carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions. A Cherry Hill disability benefits lawyer can help you apply for long-term disability benefits — and will fight for your right to compensation.
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What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a syndrome that causes numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm. It is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel — a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of a person’s wrist. There are a number of potential causes of CTS, including health problems, repetitive hand motions, and the anatomy of your wrist.
The median nerve provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers (other than the little finger). It also sends signals to move muscles around the base of your thumb. When the nerve is compressed or irritated, carpal tunnel syndrome may result.
The symptoms of CTS usually start gradually, with tingling and numbness in the fingers or hands. This sensation may then travel from your wrist up your arm. At the same time, a person with CTS may experience weakness in their hand and drop objects as a result.
What Triggers Carpal Tunnel?
There are a number of risk factors that may make a person more likely to experience CTS. These include:
- Conditions: Chronic diseases such as diabetes may damage the nerves
- Inflammatory conditions: an illness that causes inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may affect the median nerve
- Gender: CTS is more common in women than in men
- Anatomy of the wrist: A fracture or dislocation of the wrist or arthritis that deforms the wrist bones can put pressure on the median nerve
- Medications: a drug used to treat breast cancer has been linked to CTS
- Obesity: The additional body fat can lead to increased fluid retention and inflammation, which, in turn, raises pressure within the carpal tunnel. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in reducing the risk of CTS, as it helps alleviate the added strain on the wrist and nerves.
- Body fluid changes: fluid retention may increase pressure within the carpal tunnel
- Other medical conditions: certain health issues may increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with CTS, such as menopause, thyroid disorders, and kidney failure
- Repetitive motions: activities that require prolonged or reparative flexing of the wrist or work with vibrating tools may create pressure on the median nerve.
How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed through a combination of a review of symptoms, a physical examination, and tests such as a nerve conduction study and/or an electromyography test. There are a number of treatment options available for CTS, including splinting your wrist, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections. If CTS is caused by another medical condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, treating it may help to reduce the symptoms of CTS.
If CTS symptoms do not respond to other treatments or are particularly severe, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the median nerve. This is done by cutting the carpal ligament, which presses on the median nerve. This surgery can be done using an endoscope or through open surgery.
While carpal tunnel syndrome itself is generally treatable, particularly if you seek medical care immediately. If you wait too long to treat CTS, the damage to the median nerve may become permanent.
Carpal Tunnel in the Workplace
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be incredibly painful. causing tingling, pain, and numbness in the affected hand. It can also make it difficult to use that hand, particularly when it comes to grasping and other fine motor movements. If you have been diagnosed with CTS, you may find it challenging to carry out the normal functions of your job.
CTS can make it hard to perform basic tasks, such as:
- Lifting items
- Carrying and grasping objects
- Using tools
In some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motions performed at work. Even if this is not the case, having to perform certain movements at work, like using a mouse, typing, or using a vibrating tool, can exacerbate the symptoms of CTS and make it harder to reduce the inflammation of the median nerve.
Symptoms of CTS can also distract you from being able to perform your job, and may even lead to other conditions, such as depression. Constant pain and an inability to fully use your hand and arm can make it harder to concentrate — even if you don’t need that hand or arm to perform your job.
Can You Get Disability for Carpal Tunnel?
Yes, there is disability benefits available for people with carpal tunnel. If you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you may qualify for disability benefits if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your ability to work. These benefits may be provided by an insurance policy that offers coverage for both short and long-term disability benefits.
Generally, short-term disability benefits are available for conditions that prevent you from working for 6 months or less. After that period of time, you may be eligible for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. There is a waiting period to apply for both types of benefits; typically, the waiting period for short-term benefits is 7 days and up to 6 months for LTD benefits.
To be approved for LTD benefits, you will need to demonstrate that your disability from CTS is ongoing and prevents you from working. If approved, you will receive monthly disability payments of up to 50 to 60% of your salary. These benefits will be paid for a period of time ranging from 24 months to retirement age, or as long as your disability lasts.
Generally, you will need to prove that you have a diagnosis of CTS and that you are unable to work because of your CTS. To prove your diagnosis, you will typically need to submit objective proof of your diagnosis. This is often done through submitting your medical records related to your CTS, including the results of an electromyogram and nerve conduction study.
To be eligible for LTD benefits, you must also demonstrate that you cannot work due to your CTS. This can be done in a number of ways. A skilled Cherry Hill disability benefits lawyer can put together a comparison of your current limitations (per your treating physician) and your job duties. If you are unable to perform the basic functions of your position because of your CTS, then your application for LTD benefits will be approved.
Want to Learn More? Contact Our SSD Lawyers Today.
Carpal tunnel syndrome impacts as many as 10 million Americans. While the condition is usually very treatable, there are situations where it becomes so severe that a person is unable to work due to pain and limitations in their ability to use their hand and arm. If your CTS makes it impossible for you to work, then you may be eligible for LTD benefits.
At Bross & Frankel, we are devoted to helping people with disabilities who cannot work. We will work with you to gather documentation and put together a strong application for benefits, and advocate for you throughout the process. To schedule a free claim review with a member of our team, contact our office today at 856-795-8880, or reach out online.