Slepian Smith, PLLC

What happens if carpal tunnel syndrome becomes disabling?

Carpal tunnel syndrome affects millions of Americans. This uncomfortable - and sometimes disabling - condition can be especially common among women, people who work on an assembly line or people who perform data entry, though it can affect any adult.

The condition affects a nerve that runs between a person's forearm and palm. When this nerve is squeezed or compressed at the wrist, it can cause pain, swelling, numbness and tingling in the hand, wrist and forearm.

Going from bad to worse

When most people think about carpal tunnel syndrome, they often think about the minor, initial symptoms of the condition. They imagine that at most, the condition makes certain tasks uncomfortable to perform.

For many sufferers, however, carpal tunnel syndrome gets worse over time and eventually, it can become disabling.

When carpal tunnel is chronic or if a person does not receive effective treatment, symptoms that may have started as uncomfortable can become disabling. People can experience tingling in one or both hands and be unable to grasp anything due to weakened grip strength. Thumb muscles can deteriorate and people can lose the ability to determine temperature by touch.

When treatments do not work

There are many treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome, including pain medication and using a splint. More aggressive treatments like surgery are not uncommon.

Unfortunately, these efforts may not fully alleviate the symptoms. If they do, relief may only be temporary.

As such, some people can experience dramatic decreases in mobility; some may not be able to use one or both hands at all. This can make it impossible to do anything from typing on a keyboard to holding a phone. Under these circumstances, a person may not be able to work, as almost all jobs require use of the hands at least some of the time. 

If you or a loved one struggles with severe carpal tunnel syndrome and your livelihood is in jeopardy, it is crucial that you explore your legal options. You may qualify for benefits like Social Security Disability if your condition is severe and prohibits you from working. Because applying for benefits is complicated, consulting an attorney who is familiar with this process can be invaluable.

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