Work comp law
influences
carpal tunnel surgery outcomes


Work comp law influences carpal tunnel surgery outcomes

Does workers compensation law effect CARPAL TUNNEL SURGERY outcomes? Based on an article by Linda Sage it does.

A study looked at the influence that workers comp has on the outcome of carpal tunnel surgery. The study surveyed 166 people who had undergone carpal tunnel release during an eight year period. 81% of those who had received workers comp reported on-going or residual symptoms, compared with 41% of those who had not.

The workers comp group took about 3 months to get back to work after surgery, where as the non-workers comp group took only 3 weeks to get back on the job.



Work comp law influences carpal tunnel surgery outcomes

Exactly how does workers comp influence the outcome of carpal tunnel surgery? "Our study suggests that the workers comp system in some way affects outcome of carpal tunnel surgery, "said Phillip E. Higgs M.D. assistant professor of surgery and of occupational therapy. Higgs was lead author of the study, which was reported in a issue of the Journal of hand surgery.


At the time of the survey, the average time since their carpal tunnel surgery was 42 months. 113 of the patients had received workers compensation and 53 had not.

To make the results more valid, the survey excluded people who were: retired, unemployed, homemakers, had non-related medical problems or had undergone their surgeries within the previous 18 months.

Work comp law influences carpal tunnel surgery outcomes

Overall the two groups differed in job stability as well as in time off work and the presence of residual or on-going symptoms. About 50% of the workers comp patients had changed jobs since their carpal tunnel surgery, and 65% of these said they changed jobs because of their carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Of the non-workers comp group, only 25% of them had changed jobs, and only 14% of these blamed the switch on residual symptoms

Work comp law influences carpal tunnel surgery outcomes

Study after study shows that work comp does influence carpal tunnel surgery outcomes...but why?

Perhaps the workers comp group feel that CTS is an injury rather than a disease and therefore may expect to recover completely. Secondly, such workers may be tempted to prolong recovery in hopes of a larger workers comp settlement or award. And lastly, employees who receive workers compensation may have more than one repetitive strain type of injury (i.e. elbow, neck or shoulder problems). So even a successful carpal tunnel surgery procedure would not be expected to relieve all of their symptoms.


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