Wrist injuries can be very debilitating and are becoming increasingly common in the workplace. While accident-related or manual labor injuries commonly occur, injuries related to chronic computer work are on the rise. Many injuries of the wrist are valid workers’ compensation claims and we commonly represent them.
If you identify an injury related to your Georgia workplace, the next step is to make sure that your Georgia employer and their insurance partner provide you with the benefits you deserve. Challenges may come up along the way, but one of our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group can make the process easy for you.
Who Is At Risk for a Work-Related Wrist Injury?
Wrist injuries are common in workplaces of all kinds, especially those requiring repetitive use of the wrist and hand. Manual labor professions prone to wrist injuries include carpentry, construction, manufacturing, and mail delivery to name a few. Office professions are also at risk, including reception, marketing, and software engineering.
Gearhart Law Group frequently represents these Georgia workplace wrist and hand injuries:
- Arthritis (changes to the bone in your wrist and hand)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- TFCC or Ligament Damage
- Fractures of The Wrist and Hand
- Tendinitis or Tenosynovitis
If you’ve experienced an injury to your wrist or hand, contact the Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group. We can help you discover if your injury has been caused by your workplace and find the best medical professionals in your area to provide you with the best care possible.
What Wrist Injuries Can Happen At My Georgia Workplace?
The wrist is a complex joint that is made up of several smaller articulations (connections) between eight individual bones. The structure of your wrist allows for a high degree of maneuverability during fine motor tasks at work such as writing, sorting, and computer use.
Because the wrist joint is constantly in use, it is much more likely to sustain injuries at your workplace compared to other joints of the body. Although most wrist injuries are caused by repetitive stress over time, accidents such as a fall or laceration may instantly result in a wrist injury while at your Georgia workplace.
Whether your injury is due to a sudden incident or repetitive stress over time, it’s essential to get a diagnosis from your doctor to establish the best care plan for your condition. Conditions that are addressed and treated quickly have better outcomes in the long term, and early documentation of an injury can help with establishing your injury claim.
The term arthritis describes inflammation and pain in joints of the wrist. There are two main forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both forms can seriously affect daily life, though osteoarthritis (OA) is the most likely to be caused by your workplace.
Most of us will develop some amount of OA during our lives due to natural wear and tear. However, excessive load or stress to joints during repetitive movements at work can seriously accelerate this process, potentially causing OA to develop much earlier in life.
Symptoms of wrist OA typically include pain and stiffness with use, which is usually worse in the morning, and sometimes swelling. The gold standard for diagnosing OA is an X-ray.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Compression of the median nerve at the level of the wrist is referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome, a complicated and often serious problem.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can develop naturally due to genetic influences, but more often develops as a result of repetitive stress and compression to the wrist during work activities.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain at the wrist and palm, numbness or tingling into the palm, and sometimes weakness of the wrist or hand.
This condition can be diagnosed clinically without imaging, but requires advanced methods such as MRI for confident diagnosis.
TFCC or Ligament Tears and Sprains
Your wrist is supported by several ligaments that connect bones together and provide stability to the joint. The lateral side (pinky side) of your wrist also contains a special pad called the triangular fibrocartilaginous complex, shortened to TFCC.
Injuries to the TFCC or ligaments of the wrist typically occur during an accident at work, such as falling on an outstretched hand or having a heavy object fall on your hand. Other potential mechanisms of injury in the workplace include heavy lifting and lacerations.
Ligament injuries in the wrist typically present as pain with movement, laxity, and decreased ability to carry weight or grip. Symptoms of TFCC injury usually include pain with ulnar deviation (bending your wrist toward your pinky finger) and pain with putting body weight into your wrist. Ligament tears are usually diagnosed using MRI or other advanced imaging.
Fractures of The Wrist and Hand
Wrist injuries can happen to any of the small bones of the wrist (carpals) or at the ends of the forearm bones (radius and ulna). Some common types of wrist and hand fractures in the workplace are stress fractures, distal radius fractures, and finger (phalanx) fractures.
Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that develop due to stress. These can occur during an accident, or slowly with repetitive and excessive strain.
Distal radius fractures occur on the thumb side of your forearm at or just above the wrist. These fractures are typically acute (sudden) and are likely to happen during a fall-on-outstretched-hand (FOOSH) injury.
Finger fractures can occur at any finger, though most commonly the pinky finger, and are likely to occur in the workplace due to a falling object or hammering on the fingers.
Symptoms of fractures generally include moderate-to-severe pain, swelling around the injury site, and limited movement of the affected area.
All fractures are considered serious and must be accurately diagnosed using medical imaging such as an X-ray. If you think you have a fracture of your wrist or hand, contact your doctor immediately.
Tendinitis or Tenosynovitis
Many muscle tendons and connective tissues help maintain healthy function of your wrist. Some related workplace injuries we see are tendinitis and tenosynovitis.
Symptoms of tendinitis and tenosynovitis are pain with gripping objects or stretching of the wrist, and may involve sensitivity to touch of the affected area.
A special test known as Finkelstein’s test may be used to diagnose tenosynovitis of the thumb – in this test, the tester makes a fist while gripping their thumb and actively bends the wrist toward the pinky side. A positive Finkelstein’s test indicates high likelihood of thumb tenosynovitis.
Both tendinitis and tenosynovitis are considered inflammatory conditions, which usually develop due to repetitive stress from wrist and hand use without adequate recovery. These injuries can be diagnosed clinically without the use of advanced imaging, although an X-ray may be used to rule out fractures or arthritis.
Are Treatments Available for My Wrist and Hand?
Many wrist conditions can be managed with the help of the right healthcare professionals. Treatment will depend on the severity of your specific diagnosis, but seeking help is the most important step in treating your condition and substantiating your workplace injury claim.
Generally, your medical doctor will prescribe rehabilitation therapy to treat your wrist or hand condition and help regain normal function. In the case of complex injuries a certified hand therapist (CHT), which is a physical therapist or occupational therapist with specialized training, will be the best option for managing your care.
Treatment approaches in therapy typically include specialized manual techniques, exercises to improve range of motion and strength, and practicing specific movements to restore full wrist and hand function. Your therapist may also prescribe adaptive equipment like a brace or splint to help support your recovery.
Serious injuries such as complex fractures may require surgery or full casting of the wrist and hand. In these cases, therapy may be delayed until physical activity is cleared by your surgeon. However, full return to your workplace work will likely include some amount of specialized therapy and monitoring from your healthcare team.
Some surgical treatment options are carpal tunnel release, cubital tunnel release, TFCC tear repair, and ORIF for fracture repair.
Free Case Evaluation
If you have a wrist or hand injury and need legal advice, contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Beth Gearhart is Georgia’s most skilled workers’ compensation attorney, and she listens and cares about her clients. If you would like a free case evaluation for your injury, don’t hesitate to contact Beth today. If you don’t receive a settlement check, Beth doesn’t receive an attorney fee.