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Correctional facility spawns multiple cases of carpal tunnel

When people hear the phrase carpal tunnel, most think of injuries associated with using a keyboard for a computer. But carpal tunnel syndrome can develop in any employee who does a lot of repetitive work.

Employees at a correction facility have filed 59 new cases involving workers' compensation. This not only includes cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, but it also features dozens of new cases of tarsal tunnel syndrome which is not a frequently claimed injury.

Employees blame the increase in tarsal tunnel syndrome on repetitive injuries caused by long hours of walking and standing on hard concrete floors in the prison. Complaints of foot and ankle pain radiating up the legs is the most frequent symptom.

Since 2008, a total of 260 workers' compensation claims for repetitive injuries have been filed at the prison. The incidences of repetitive trauma at the prison are nearly four times higher than that of similar correction facilities.

Settlements for repetitive injury cases have reached $6.9 million, including time off paid to employees of the prison. The figure does not include medical expenses - surgery is the most recommended remedy for this type of injury. Since 2008, over $10 million has been paid out to employees at the prison for all workers' compensation claims.

Questions have arisen as to how prison guards at just one prison could fall victim to so many repetitive injury situations. Investigators have begun to look into the situation and a federal grand jury has been commissioned to review worker's compensation claims at the prison.

Injuries that are the result of repetitive motions can be painful, especially if left untreated. If a worker seeks medical treatment, workers' compensation can help cover the costs.

Source: BND.com, "Menard employees file 59 workers' comp claims in 2011, including 5 reports of food trauma," George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, 12 June 2011

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