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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. The pressure may come from swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller.  The carpal tunnel is a passage between the arm and hand through which the median nerve is allowed to pass freely in a normal healthy wrist.   CTS can be caused by congenital factors (e.g., hypothyroidism, rheumetorid arthritis, and diabetes, pregnancy, obesity) or by making the same hand movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down (your hands lower than your wrists).  Repetitive hand movements are often involved in assembly and manufacturing jobs as well as secretarial positions and musicians.  When CTS is caused by repetitive workplace use it may be referred to as an occupational disease.  The dominant hand is most commonly becomes affected first and produces the most severe pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually occurs only in adults. In addition, women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands at nighttime, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist. As symptoms progressively worsen, people might feel tingling during the day, as well. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people may become unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by the history of symptoms, physical exam, x-ray, electromyogram or a nerve conduction study. Some people with mild symptoms can ease their discomfort by taking frequent breaks to rest their hands and by applying cold packs to reduce occasional swelling. If these techniques fail to offer relief within a few weeks, additional treatment options include wrist splinting, medications and surgery. Fortunately, for the majority of people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, proper treatment usually can relieve the pain and numbness and restore normal use of their wrists and hands.  Sometimes surgery is necessary to open the carpal tunnel to allow for the movement of the nerve.

If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome related to repetitive use in the work place, an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be necessary.  Of course, it is important to report the repetitive use in the work place to your physician as early as possible when symptoms start to develop.   Learn more here.

The legal definition of injury is complicated. The Ohio Revised Code defines what injuries are covered under Workers’ compensation. The statutory definition of injury includes any injury, whether caused by external accidental means or accidental in character and result, received in the course of and arising out of, the injured employee’s employment. It is a broad definition and to be construed in a light more favorable to injured workers. These definitional requirements exist due to three concerns. 1) The need to distinguish between injury and disease 2) To eliminate events that just happen-coincidence-for an injury to be compensable it must be caused by the work, 3) And the need for a direct relationship between employment and the injury.

Injuries can consist of an event or a gradually developing injury...a village injury. Medical is needed to establish that an injury occurred.

Injuries must occur to employees. However wages do not have to be received to be an employee.

There are exceptions to a finding of injury. These include events that just happen — idiopathic injuries, and recreational programs. Also a determination will be made on the arising out of employment. When making this determination the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will look at the hazards of employment, whether the employee was on a personal mission, whether the employee was a fixed situs employee, and whether the event occurred during horseplay.

Psychiatric conditions without physical injuries are NOT covered under workers’ compensation.

If you think you have sustained an injury and need an Ohio comp lawyer,  please call the attorneys at NRS to discuss the facts of the injury. Workers’ compensation is very fact specific so it is important to review all the facts when deciding if an injury occurred.

In Ohio, Workers’ Compensation is provided by the state government through a state insurance fund. This insurance is funded by employers, who pay into the system as required by law. In Ohio, every employer who has one or more employees must pay into the state Worker’s Compensation insurance fund. In return for payment into the fund, the company is in compliance with the law and also has the benefit of receiving Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage. Unfortunately some employers choose not to pay into this state-mandated insurance fund.

Small business owners have, on occasion, believed that because they are a small business, they do not have to pay into the state Workers’ Compensation insurance fund. As mentioned above, if a business, even a small business, has one or more employees, they must pay into the state insurance fund. Penalties for failure to pay into the state insurance fund range from fines, to liens, to outright forfeiture of the business. Furthermore, if an accident involving an employee should occur during a lapse of coverage due to non-payment the injured worker can sue the employer for all damage expenses relating to the work injury, or file a Workers’ Compensation claim for which the employer must reimburse the BWC. While small businesses must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, self-employed workers do not.

Self-employed workers are an exception to the requirement to pay into the state insurance fund and carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. While not required, self-employed workers can elect to pay into the state insurance fund and receive Workers’ Compensation insurance or pay a private company to insure them. We at Nager, Romaine, and Schneiberg highly recommend self-employed workers have Workers’ Compensation coverage. We believe that the short term gains of not paying monthly into the fund, are far outweighed by the exposure to medical bills and lost wages that would accrue in the case of a work-place accident.

If you are injured at work and your employer tells you that the company does not have Workers’ Compensation coverage, seek immediate legal advice. Call 1-855-GOT-HURT to speak with one of our Ohio workers comp lawyers, or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch.

When Injuries Happen on the Job, Know Your Rights

Most often, people think of workplace injuries in terms of a single incident – i.e., a trench collapse, a fall from a scaffold or roof, an explosion or another excruciatingly painful, life-altering event. Yet most injuries on the job are the result of repetitive movements that are performed day after day, over and over again, for months or even years. In fact, repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) comprise the largest single category of workplace injuries—far surpassing most other injuries. If you are a worker in the U.S., you have a one in eight chance of developing an RSI during your lifetime.

Moreover, RSIs don’t fall under any one precise definition. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety laws, there are more than 100 types of job-induced injuries and illnesses that result from wear and tear on the body.

RSIs tend to sneak up on workers over time. The action that leads to one doesn’t necessarily have to be stressful or physically challenging. Yet when repeated throughout the day, day in and day out for months or even years, it has a cumulative effect that can cause considerable pain and inhibit one’s ability to perform even routine tasks.

RSI Risks Can Lurk in Nearly Any Job

RSIs certainly occur through use of vibratory tools such as jackhammers. Yet office workers are just as likely – if not more likely – to suffer from RSIs as a result of computer use throughout the day. In today’s Information Age, computers run nearly every aspect of so many businesses. And with that comes the task of physically managing data entry—from typing emails to generating invoices, performing data entry and more. As a result, the most common type of RSI involves injury to the hands and arms. Carpal tunnel syndrome, defined as the pinching of nerves caused by swelling of tissues in the wrist, bursitis, defined as the swelling of cushions between bones, and tendonitis, defined as tears in tissue connecting muscles and bones, are some examples of office-related RSIs.

Of course, physical jobs are rife with RSIs. Any job that requires repeated motion – whether it’s pounding nails with a hammer or pounding keys on a supermarket cash register – can cause RSIs. Besides manufacturing, distribution and construction, occupations that run a high potential risk for RSIs include automotive mechanics, assembly line workers, food service workers (and notably, butchers), musicians and drivers.

How to Tell if You Have an RSI

Detecting RSIs can be difficult in the early stages, and too often, the symptoms are fully developed by the time a worker decides to take action or seek medical treatment. Some workers may notice RSI signs early on, but don’t seek treatment because they may think the pain and stress are due to aging, or simply an unfortunate consequence of the job they’re working. They accept it for what it is and shrug it off. Others may fear losing their jobs as a result of seeking treatment or filing claims.

So what are the warning signs of RSIs? According to medical and OSHA officials, they include a dull or achy pain in the limbs, tingling or numbness in the fingers or arms, weakness or a loss of coordination, or fatigue.

Officials recommend that, if you are experiencing any such symptoms, you should note when in the day they most frequently occur and what activities you’ve been performing when the symptoms occur. Doing so can give your doctor valuable information to help determine the cause and recommend a treatment.

Thankfully, workers have rights when it comes to RSIs. Through workers’ compensation, workers can recover for RSIs. If you believe you have an RSI, you should make a timely workers’ compensation claim—and, you should seek the care of a medical professional as soon as you recognize any measurable job-related pain, loss of motion, flexibility or strength, tingling or numbness, or similar bodily discomfort.

Note that workers’ compensation laws prohibit employers from firing or disciplining employees for filing claims. By law, therefore, you won’t be penalized for taking action to alleviate your RSI. If any action is taken against you for that, you need to seek immediate help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

No Cost Evaluation

If you, a family member or a friend has sustained a repetitive stress injury on the job, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers of NRS have handled a variety of repetitive stress injury cases over many years; we fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.

In the event you or a loved one has sustained a repetitive stress injury on the job, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

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