Carpal Tunnel Lawyers in Illinois
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When hiring a workers' compensation law firm in Illinois it is important to have a firm that has experience with your specific injury. The lawyers we recommend almost exclusively handle workers' compensation claims in Illinois so they have years of experience in representing workers that have carpal tunnel. Hiring one of these lawyers (or someone you find on your own that has a similar profile) can greatly increase your chances of obtaining the maximum benefits available to you under Illinois law.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most commonly described as a feeling of numbness or tingling in the hand. It is also possible to feel a pain that goes up the arm, sometimes reaching the shoulder. Many times you will experience clumsiness when handling objects. It is the most common repetitive stress injury among Illinois workers and affects more than eight million people nationwide.
Carpal tunnel syndrome got its name because the median nerve that travels from your forearm to your hand rests inside a tunnel in your wrist. Along with the nerve, the tunnel also contains nine tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones and allow you to move your fingers. The tendons are covered with a membrane, which, at times, can become enflamed. If the membrane swells up large enough, it causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand. This is then referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome.
What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Some common causes of carpal tunnel are:
- repetitive and forceful grasping with the hands
- repetitive bending of the wrist
- broken or dislocated bones in the wrist which produce swelling
- thyroid gland imbalance
- excessive typing
- hormonal changes associated with menopause
How do I determine if I have carpal tunnel?
If you have any of the symptoms of carpal tunnel you should see a doctor, preferably one who specializes in hand injuries. The biggest indicator of carpal tunnel is numbness, tingling or pain in the hand or wrist, sometimes extending up into the elbow or into the fingers. The best objective test to determine the presence of carpal tunnel is a nerve conduction study or EMG. However, sometimes this test can be normal and carpal tunnel can still be present.
How do I know if my carpal tunnel syndrome is work related?
In Illinois, if your job causes, aggravates or accelerates your carpal tunnel syndrome or any other problem, then your injury should be 100% covered under the Illinois workers' compensation Act. In other words, even if you have a pre-existing condition, if it is in any way related to your job activities then you should be receiving workers' compensation benefits in Illinois. Most doctors agree that typing or repetitive use of the hands does contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Is carpal tunnel syndrome serious?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect your ability to work and perform tasks in your daily life. Many people find relief if they seek treatment, which can range from non-invasive to surgical. It can also take time to recover, sometimes up to several months. Left untreated, it can lead to increasing pain, decreased grip strength and even muscle atrophy in the hands. The ADA recognizes carpal tunnel syndrome as a disability.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are different options for treating carpal tunnel syndrome depending on how severe the case is. A doctor will be able to recommend the type of treatment that is necessary according to your individual circumstances. The goal of any form of treatment is to relieve the pressure on the nerve; therefore the treatment must cause the inflamed membrane to shrink back to its normal size. Early diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be treated early enough to avoid surgery.
If the carpal tunnel syndrome is not severe, a doctor might recommend a splint for the wrist, which keeps your wrist from bending. By keeping the wrist straight the sprint relieves pressure from the nerve and reduces the inflammation. A doctor can also proscribe medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflamatories. As the name implies, the medication also reduces swelling.
If you have a more severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome, a doctor may perform a cortisone injection. The doctor will inject medicine into the carpal tunnel which also reduces the swelling of the membrane and relieves the pressure on the nerve.
If these treatments do not provide the patient with relief, the doctor may decide to perform surgery. The doctor will refer to the surgery as a "release." In effect, the doctor will cut the ligament that forms the roof of the carpal tunnel; this will relieve the pressure on the nerve. Local anesthesia is used so that you will not feel any pain during the surgery and you will not be required to stay overnight. While all surgeries present risks, carpal tunnel surgery is very common and one study has indicated that carpal tunnel surgery is performed more than 200,000 times a year.
What are some other repetitive stress injuries?
Many workers who think they have carpal tunnel syndrome actually have other problems such as DeQuervain's tenosynovitis, trigger finger problems, radial tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve compression. For questions relating to these problems please call us and we will connect you with an Illinois job injury attorney that has experience with those types of problems.
Will my medical bills be paid?
Yes, all reasonable and necessary medical treatment is covered under workers' compensation, provided that your carpal tunnel injury was caused by your job. Payment of medical bills should include visits to your doctor, prescriptions, as well as surgery and other typical treatments. Keep in mind that your benefits might be denied and you might have to fight for them. An experienced work injury attorney is in the best position to get you the benefits you're entitled to.
What is my carpal tunnel syndrome case worth?
Everyone who has job related carpal tunnel syndrome is entitled to 100% of their medical care to be paid for which means no co-pays or out of pocket expenses. In addition if you miss time from work that is related to your carpal tunnel, you may be entitled to compensation for this time period. Finally, if you have work related carpal tunnel syndrome you are also entitled to benefits for the permanent nature of your injury. The amount you may be entitled to depends on your ultimate recovery as well as how much money you were earning at the time your injury was diagnosed. In workers' compensation, the extent of a permanent disability is described in percentages. Changes to the Illinois workers' compensation Act, made in 2011, cap carpal tunnel syndrome awards at 15% loss of use of the hand, although it can be 30% in some cases. The percentage, along with the amount you were earning, is used to determine what your case is worth.
To obtain a ball park estimate of the value of your case, contact us for a recommendation to an experienced workers' compensation lawyer.
What if I have to take time off work?
If your carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by your job, you are entitled to get paid a portion of your lost wages while you undergo treatment and recover. This is called temporary total disability or TTD. If your employer is able to find an alternative job for you to do, within your doctor's restrictions, you will be able to continue to work. If, however, the new position pays less, then you are entitled to a portion of the difference in wages.
Will I get a settlement?
If you have a permanent injury, you might end up considering a lump sum settlement from the insurance company. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause you to lose partial use of your hands. The amount of this loss will be taken into consideration in determining your settlement amount. If you do settle for a lump sum, it's important to know that you will give up future medical benefits in exchange for taking that settlement. Always consult with an attorney before agreeing to a settlement.
If you have any questions or would like our help in finding an experienced Illinois carpal tunnel attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.