Carpal Tunnel Diagnosis Risks Higher Economic Loss

October 22, 2020


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man with carpal tunnel syndrome holding hurt wrist sitting at laptop

The long-term economic losses of workers with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), whose common symptoms include numbness and weakening of the hand muscles, have long been known to exceed those of workers with other musculoskeletal conditions, according to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

L&I, which administers workers’ compensation claims in Washington, estimates that the overall additional loss of earnings for workers with CTS claims ranges between $232 million and $368 million over the seven years following their L&I claim, which equates to a loss of between $52,000 and $83,000 per claimant.

A more recent study, published as part of L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) workplace safety and health research program, found that chronic conditions may contribute to further losses for CTS claimants. The same proportion of CTS claimants and claimants with upper-extremity fractures (UEF) were out of work five years after their injury if they had no chronic conditions—such as asthma, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, obesity, depression and diabetes. However, CTS claimants were affected with chronic conditions at a higher rate than UEF claimants and tended to remain out of work longer than their UEF counterparts with the same number of chronic conditions.

infographic from Washington Department of Labor and Industries regarding carpal tunnel syndrome

The results of the studies highlight the importance of preventing CTS and diagnosing and treating cases in the early stages of the condition, while also paying attention to the impacts of chronic conditions on workers trying to recover from workplace injuries. The findings also underline the importance of securing all L&I benefits that claimants are entitled to.


Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us if you have an upper extremity condition including CTS. We can help you recover medical costs, lost wages and future income, economic damages for pain, suffering and lost quality of life from the condition.

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