Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Covered by Workers’ Comp?

A doctor examining a patient's wrist for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful, often debilitating condition caused by wrist compression of the median nerve. It affects tens of thousands of workers yearly and has become increasingly common, especially in occupations requiring repetitive hand and wrist movements. 

It can affect one’s ability to perform even simple tasks such as writing and picking up objects due to its extreme pain. Fortunately, with assistance from a workers’ compensation lawyer, it may be possible for individuals who suffer from a CTS work injury to get compensation through workers’ comp if their case meets certain criteria. 

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that occurs because of inflammation in the hands and wrists. The inflammation puts pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. In turn, the pressure on the nerve results in pain, numbness, and the inability to use the wrist in a normal manner. Nerve damage may also occur.

How is CTS diagnosed?

CTS is usually diagnosed through a physical exam and specific tests. An electromyograph (EMG) or nerve conduction test can measure the electrical signals sent by nerves in your arms, fingers, and hands to confirm CTS. Your doctor may also order X-rays or MRIs to rule out any other underlying conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome involves relieving pressure on the wrists. In general, initial treatments are focused on nonsurgical options such as splinting, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and physical or occupational therapy to help strengthen muscles. For those with more severe cases of CTS, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

Is carpal tunnel considered a work-related injury?

In some circumstances, carpal tunnel can be considered a work injury for which you could receive compensation through workers’ comp. To successfully qualify for workers’ comp with CTS, the condition must arise out of your employment and must not have been pre-existing. Additionally, if your working conditions like vibrating machinery are the primary cause of your CTS, you may qualify for benefits under Colorado’s workers’ compensation laws.

Does workers’ compensation cover carpal tunnel syndrome?

The medical condition must be work-related. To have carpal tunnel syndrome covered by workers’ compensation, you must make a report. By taking the right steps, carpal tunnel syndrome can be covered by workers’ compensation. Therefore, you can receive all of the benefits of the workers’ compensation system, including medical treatment, pay for lost work, and a change in job duties.

When exactly can carpal tunnel syndrome be considered work-related?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is generally thought to be a work-related injury if it has been caused or aggravated by conditions in the workplace. For example, if you have suffered from CTS due to monotonous hand movements, such as typing while at your job, then this could mean that you are eligible for workers’ comp. 

However, proving that your CTS was caused by these specific conditions can be challenging and will require assistance from an experienced workers’ comp attorney

Can I get workers’ compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome?

Yes, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome as long as it developed due to your work duties.  

Should I file a workers’ comp claim for carpal tunnel?

Yes, you should file a workers’ comp claim for carpal tunnel if your case meets the qualification standards. The workers’ compensation system exists to help workers get the compensation they deserve. The system is meant to be streamlined and easier for employees to access than traditional litigation. Workers’ compensation can help you get much-needed medical care and other relief when you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of work.

Workers’ compensation and carpal tunnel syndrome

The steps to have carpal tunnel syndrome covered by workers’ compensation is similar to how one would report any other type of work injury.

  • Report the injury to your employer and initiate a workers’ comp claim
  • Seek medical care from a qualified healthcare professional. During your visit, the doctor may take X-rays and perform different tests to make the diagnosis. The doctor may recommend that your work duties be altered or your work hours reduced while seeking CTS treatment.
  • Make sure to make copies of the doctor’s note and any other documentation before giving it to your employer
  • Your employer should attempt to be accommodating and modify your work duties. If your work hours were cut or you are unable to work, you may be entitled to a reduced level of compensation to make up for your lost income.
  • Once your employer has the documentation from the doctor, they should complete and submit a claim form. It is up to your employer’s workers’ comp insurance provider to make a decision on your claim.
  • The insurance provider may initially deny the claim due to the challenge of proving CTS is work-related. However, you can appeal their decision. With the proper medical documentation, diagnosis, and help from a workers’ compensation lawyer, it can be easier to prove your claim. 

How can an attorney help me with my carpal tunnel syndrome and workers’ compensation?

Unlike other types of work injuries, carpal tunnel develops over time. There isn’t just one event that produces the injury where others may witness. Instead, there may be some steps involved in documenting your job duties and how they translate to your injuries. 

An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you understand your rights and assist with the entire process. They can also present any legal arguments that may support your claim that your carpal tunnel syndrome is indeed work-related. Additionally, an attorney can ensure that all deadlines are met in filing your claim and will help maximize your benefits.

In the event the insurance company denies your claim, they will appeal the decision. Additionally, they will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you receive the workers’ compensation you are entitled to receive. 

What if my employer refuses to file my workers’ comp claim for CTS?

If your employer or their insurance company refuses to file a workers’ comp claim for CTS, then it is time to contact an experienced attorney. Your lawyer can help you build a case and advocate on your behalf in order to obtain the compensation you legally deserve.

What if my employer fired me for filing a workers’ comp claim?

Employers are prohibited from taking retaliatory action against employees who file for workers’ compensation benefits. If this has happened to you, then it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

If I can’t work, will I get my normal amount of pay?

The amount of workers’ comp benefits that you are eligible for will depend on your state laws. In Colorado, employees generally receive two-thirds of their average weekly salary if they are unable to work and are on temporary total disability. However, if a person is able to work part-time at reduced hours on partial disability, then the amount they receive is adjusted accordingly based on the number of hours they can work. 

Contact our workers’ compensation lawyers for a free consultation

A worker's compensation lawyer working on paperwork at his desk.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be considered a work-related injury if it arises from an employee’s workplace duties and conditions, making them eligible for compensation through workers’ comp. Contacting an experienced lawyer is the best way to protect your rights when filing for workers’ comp with CTS. 

If you have CTS from work-related duties and have further questions about filing workers’ comp or are having difficulties with your employer believing your CTS was caused at work, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Bachus & Schanker are here to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 


CRS 8-40-202.

Injured Workers. (2023).

Know Your Rights as an Injured Worker. (2021).

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