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Work-related wrist pain is not always carpal tunnel

Most people associate job-related wrist, hand and arm pain with carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if their work involves repetitive movements. While carpal tunnel is a legitimate workplace injury, it is not the only form of continuous trauma that affects the arm and hand.

When you believe your pain is carpal tunnel syndrome, you may choose to treat it yourself, at least for a while, with Tylenol or ibuprofen. Unfortunately, if your condition is not carpal tunnel, you risk it worsening to the point that it impacts your work and lifestyle.

Wrist tendonitis

Many people confuse tendonitis of the wrist with carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms of these conditions are similar, but they are two different continuous trauma injuries. Pain on the bottom of the wrist or hand usually indicates carpal tunnel. Pain on the top of the wrist and hand may mean you suffer from tendonitis.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

Few people know about de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, a condition linked to tendonitis that resembles carpal tunnel syndrome. It involves inflammation of the sheath around a tendon, usually in the base of the thumb. Sometimes, only the sheath is inflamed, but other times (in severe cases), the tendon and sheath suffer inflammation simultaneously.

Medical treatments may differ

Distinct continuous trauma workplace injuries require different treatments to heal or improve your ability to work. For example, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis sometimes requires a surgical procedure to eliminate pain and prevent permanent damage. Workers’ compensation covers many cumulative trauma injuries including those that affect the arm, wrist and hand. 

If you suffer from work-related pain and loss of mobility, a workers’ compensation claim can help you identify your condition and get proper medical treatment. A practical first step is learning more about how the California workers’ compensation system functions.