Making a Workers Compensation Claim for Wrist Tendonitis
Wrist tendonitis and related repetitive stress injuries are common in the workplace, but workers compensation coverage for these types of injuries can be a grey area.
Wrist tendonitis accounts for a significant percentage of workplace injury claims. Because Worker's Compensation laws vary by jurisdiction, it may or may not be compensable under the Worker's Compensation system in place where you live and work. Read on to learn more about work-related wrist tendonitis injuries, and how you might be able to get compensation for harm caused by those injuries.
What Is Wrist Tendonitis and How Is It Treated?
Wrist tendonitis occurs when the tendons in your wrist become inflamed, usually as a result of repetitive motion and/or overuse of the wrist. For this reason, perhaps the most commonly-identified form of wrist tendonitis is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This results over time from sustained periods of activities such as typing, or playing a musical instrument. Chefs, surgeons and some athletes may also experience this because they use their wrists and hands so much in the scope of their jobs.
Symptoms of an RSI in the wrist may include decreased dexterity, loss of feeling in the hands, chronic pain, and reduced strength, such as a diminished ability to grasp things. Treatments depend on how severe the condition is. If the symptoms are mild, treatment may consist of simple things, such as a period of rest in which the activity is not performed, physical therapy, massage, use of a wrist splint, and/or anti-inflammatory medication.
However, if the condition is more severe and a physician suspects nerve damage, surgery may be necessary to resolve or relieve wrist tendonitis symptoms. Surgery will be followed by a recovery period, of course, and it is important to follow your doctor's instructions. You should also obtain his or her advice about whether you should return to your previous employment -- including whether there should be any limitations placed on your job duties -- and what your future prognosis will be.
How Do I Start a Claim?
If you suspect that you have wrist tendonitis that's been caused by your job duties, make sure you report it to your employer as soon as you begin to experience symptoms. If caught early, tendonitis can resolve with minimal treatment. Your employer may be able to make changes to your work station to lessen the burden on your wrists -- in some cases is may be as simple as adding wrist rests to your computer keyboard.
Even if your employer cannot make changes due to the nature of your job -- or if your employer refuses to make any changes -- it is important to place him or her on notice of your potential work-related injury as quickly as possible. Then, you might want to consult with a lawyer to determine whether Worker's Compensation may cover your claim, or whether you might have to pursue litigation to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages. Also, make sure you are examined by your doctor so he or she can properly diagnose you and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.
Whether through Worker's Comp or litigation, you can seek to recover any lost earnings that resulted from the injury, including missed time for recovery or doctor's appointments. You can also seek to recover medical expenses that were related to your wrist tendonitis. If your employer could have accommodated you to alleviate the injury but did not do so, you may be entitled to seek other damages as well.
If you're not sure how best to proceed, talk to a workers compensation attorney. You should be able to consult an attorney at no cost, to better understand your legal options.