If your job involves working with your hands, you may develop a tingling feeling or pain in your wrist or hand but not know what it is until you see a doctor.

The condition may be carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Most cases are mild but if the condition goes untreated, CTS could become a permanent disability.

What it is

The carpal tunnel is a structure in the wrist and hand. In addition to bones and tendons, it includes nerves that control the movement of your fingers and thumb. If the tissue surrounding the nerves becomes inflamed and squeezes those nerves, you will experience pain or a prickly sensation in your hand.


You may first notice a tingling in your fingers and thumb. Additional pressure on the nerves from wrist to hand will cause ongoing pain. It may become difficult for you to use your hand for basic activities, such as picking up a glass. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more severe the condition becomes. Treatment often includes pain relievers, use of a splint or similar device, and, if necessary, surgery.

Next steps

If you hope to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must report the injury to your employer within 120 days of learning that your carpal tunnel syndrome relates to the kind of work you do. Your employer should provide you with the workers’ compensation claim form. You can rely on an advocate to help you submit the form and guide you through an appeal in the event of claim denial, which is not uncommon. Once the workers’ compensation insurer approves your claim, you can choose from a list of doctors who can provide treatment for the next 90 days. After that, the insurer must pay for treatment from the doctor of your choice.