Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) should be covered by workers’ compensation in Nevada if you can show it was caused by your job.
Although CTS is a common repetitive stress injury (RSI), workers’ comp insurers are often suspicious about whether you developed CTS from work or from nonoccupational reasons. If the insurer denies your claim, you have 70 days to appeal.1
What medical treatments will workers’ comp cover?
If you can show that your job caused your carpal tunnel syndrome, the following medical treatments may be covered:
- injections of steroids
- splinting (a brace for your hand)
- physical therapy and rehab2
How can I prove my job caused my carpal tunnel syndrome?
First, you need to show that you have carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS). This can be easily proven through your medical records, which should include:
- a diagnosis by an orthopedic specialist;
- X-rays and other imaging;
- positive nerve conduction studies; and
Second, you would need to show that your job requires you to move your hands in an abnormal way that increased your risk of CTS. Examples include:
- keeping your wrist in an unnatural position;
- repeatedly twisting your wrist or hand;
- frequent grasping;
- stretching your joints beyond their natural range (“hyperflexion”); and/or
- extensive usage of vibrating equipment.
You should supply your hand specialist with a detailed description of what you do at your job. This way, the hand specialist can determine whether your job duties may have caused your CTS. Ideally, your physician will write on your C-4 form that your job was the cause of your CTS.
Note that CTS can also develop in people for nonoccupational reasons, such as:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- being elderly
- non-work related activities, such as knitting
Also note that females are more likely to develop CTS than males.3
What jobs are most high-risk?
All kinds of work can potentially lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). What matters more is that the hand motions are repetitive, not necessarily that they are strenuous. Common examples of work that may lead to CTS include:
- any job that requires extensive typing on a keyboard
- fast food work that requires frequent pushing of levers and other repetitive motions
- restaurant work requiring frequent knife usage
- drilling or mining
- any job that requires power tools, such as a builder or mechanic
- operating on patients using doctor’s tools
- any manual labor (such as moving) requiring repetitive gripping of objects
How do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?
You would need a doctor to examine your fingers, hands and wrists to make a formal CTS diagnosis. Symptoms usually come on gradually and may include:
- numbness and loss of feeling
- weakness and difficulty gripping
- inability to distinguish hot from cold by touch
CTS is more serious than a temporary sprain. It occurs when your median nerve – which extends from your forearm to palm – gets compressed at the wrist by inflamed tendons and ligaments.4
- NRS 617 – Nevada Occupational Diseases Act. NRS 616C.345. See, for example, Brown v. State Indus. Ins. Sys. (1990) 106 Nev. 878; Amazon.com v. Magee (2005) 121 Nev. 632.
- See Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, WebMD. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Mayo Clinic.