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CDC assesses trends in job-related carpal tunnel syndrome

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the industries and occupations that leave workers with a high risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. New Jersey residents should know that although the report focuses on data from the California Department of Public Health, the results have a wide-ranging application.

The CDPH analyzed the workers' compensation claims for CTS that were filed between 2007 and 2014 and sorted them by industry. It also calculated the rate for CTS per full-time equivalent worker. Its conclusion was that there were 139,336 probable and possible CTS cases among California workers in that eight-year period. Just over 8 out of every 10,000 FTE workers were women while 2.5 were men.

Those involved in manufacturing apparel, processing food and performing administrative work had the highest risk for developing CTS. Textile, fabric finishing and coating mills saw 44.9 out of every 10,000 of their FTE workers develop it. The animal slaughtering and processing industry was also high on the list with a CTS rate of 39.8 per 10,000 workers.

CTS occurs when the median nerve, which is in the wrist, is compressed. Any activity that involves forceful, repetitive tasks or prolonged use of the wrists or hands in an awkward posture is a risk factor. Victims typically experience pain, a tingling sensation or numbness in the hand or wrist.

Those who develop CTS as a result of their work may be eligible for benefits from the workers' compensation program. These benefits are paid out regardless of whether anyone was at fault, but it must be shown that the reported injuries are indeed work-related. This is where an attorney might come in and hire medical experts to build up the claim. The attorney may also appeal if the claim is denied. If successful, the benefits may cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages.

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