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How carpal tunnel syndrome could impact a worker

You've been working for a while now, performing jobs that require a lot of repetitive motion. Specifically, you do work that requires your wrist to be flexed for long periods of time. Over time your wrist starts to go numb and you struggle with simple hand motions. Doing your job has become difficult, forcing you to seek medical help.

You go to a specialist who tells you that you've developed carpal tunnel syndrome and will need treatment. What exactly will happen next?

Depending on the severity of the pain, the treatments vary. If the pain you're experiencing is milder and onset was recent, a doctor may suggest a simple regimen of anti-inflammation medication and a night splint, accompanied by rest. Some individuals may require physical therapy to restore mobility to the wrist and fingers. In more extreme cases, a worker may need surgery to help reverse the effects of carpal tunnel.

Doctors also believe that certain things contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition to pressure on the wrist, certain neck strain can also make it worse. Because the nerves in the wrist originate in the neck, any type of neck pain can exasperate the wrist pain. 

But as a worker, you may wonder whether this occupational injury will impact your ability to do your job and, ultimately, provide for your family. This can be a concern, especially if you require surgery and additional rehabilitation.

If the injury was work-related, you could seek workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can help cover the costs of medical treatment as well as lost wages. Instead of worrying about your financial situation, you could focus on recovering from the injury.

Source: The Coloradoan: "Neck key to carpal tunnel syndrome treatment," Dr. Tim Flynn and Dr. Terry Gebhardt, Sept. 24, 2011

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