Learn when these occupational injuries may qualify for SC workers’ compensation and how to maximize your benefits
Trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis are repetitive strain injuries that impact workers across various industries in South Carolina. Often manifesting in those whose jobs involve continuous hand and wrist movements, these conditions can lead to pain, discomfort and difficulty performing routine tasks.
Understanding how these injuries develop, their symptoms, and their connection to certain types of work is essential for employees. Equally important is knowing that if these conditions are work-related, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
This article will delve into the specifics of trigger finger and de Quervain syndrome, exploring how they can be recognized as occupational injuries and what steps you can take to claim the compensation you deserve under South Carolina law.
Common symptoms of trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis
Trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis are 2 distinct conditions affecting the hands and wrists, each with its own set of symptoms:
Common symptoms of trigger finger include:
- Stiffness in the affected finger or thumb, particularly in the morning
- Popping or clicking sensation when bending or straightening the finger
- Tenderness at the base of the finger or thumb where it joins the palm
- Pain when bending or straightening the finger, accompanied by swelling
Additionally, the affected finger or thumb may lock in a bent position and then suddenly pop straight. In severe cases, it can remain locked.
Common symptoms of de Quervain tenosynovitis include:
- Pain near the base of the thumb, which can extend up the forearm, often occurring when forming a fist, grasping objects, or turning the wrist
- Swelling near the base of the thumb, which may accompany a fluid-filled cyst in this region
- Sensation of numbness in the thumb and index finger
- Difficulty moving the thumb away from the hand, especially when trying to grasp something or make a fist
- Snapping or catching sensation when moving the thumb
Both conditions are often the result of repetitive motion or overuse, leading to inflammation and discomfort in the tendons. If these symptoms are persistent and affect your ability to perform daily tasks, including work, it’s crucial to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.
How common are trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis?
Studies have shown that in the general population, the prevalence of trigger finger is about 3%, although this rises to between 5% and 20% among individuals diagnosed with diabetes. While de Quervain tenosynovitis only affects between 0.6% and 2% of people.
Which types of workers are most likely to develop trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis?
Trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis are most likely to develop in workers whose jobs involve repetitive hand and wrist motions or sustained gripping. The types of workers at higher risk for these conditions include:
- Manual laborers. Workers engaged in manufacturing, construction, roofing, plumbing, carpentry, or electrical work often perform repetitive gripping and hand movements that can lead to these conditions.
- Health care professionals.Nurses, surgeons and dental hygienists, who frequently use fine motor skills and perform repetitive tasks, are susceptible to these hand and wrist issues.
- Office and administrative staff. Those who spend long hours typing or using a computer mouse are at risk due to the repetitive nature of these tasks and the strain they place on the wrists and fingers.
- Gardeners and landscapers. This group often uses tools that require gripping and repetitive wrist motion, making them prone to such conditions.
- Cooks and chefs. The culinary profession requires repetitive chopping, cutting, and various wrist movements that can strain the hands and wrists, increasing the risk of injury for workers in the restaurant and hotel industries.
- Artists and craftsmen. Those who do fine, detailed handwork, such as painters, sculptors, and jewelers, are also at risk due to the precision and repetitive motions their crafts demand.
- Musicians. Professional musicians, especially string and keyboard players, often repeat the same hand and finger motions, which can contribute to the development of these conditions.
Understanding the risk factors in these professions can help in taking preventive measures and seeking early treatment if symptoms of trigger finger or de Quervain tenosynovitis begin to appear.
Learn which pre-existing conditions may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, and find out how to receive benefits if you’re affected.
What is the recovery time for trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis?
Both of these conditions often heal with proper rest, splinting, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy, although more aggressive measures like surgery are needed in some cases.
The recovery time can vary from a few weeks to a few months. For non-surgical treatments, many people start to see improvement within a few weeks, but complete recovery may take longer. If surgical intervention is needed, it can take several more weeks before regular activities can resume.
Returning to work depends on the nature of your job. If your job involves activities that exacerbate the condition, you may need to modify your duties or take a longer time off until fully healed.
Can I get workers’ comp for trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation for conditions like trigger finger and de Quervain tenosynovitis if it can be established that they’re work-related. These repetitive strain injuries are often associated with occupational activities that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements, which are common in various jobs.
To qualify for workers’ compensation, you need to demonstrate that the activities performed in your workplace directly contributed to or aggravated these conditions.
While this may sound straightforward, proving that one of these occupational diseases (which typically develop slowly over time) is caused by your job can be difficult, so you should take the following steps to increase your chance of a successful workers’ comp claim:
- Report the injury promptly. Inform your employer about your condition as soon as possible, but no more than 90 days after receiving a diagnosis.
- Seek medical treatment and diagnosis. Obtain a clear medical diagnosis linking your condition to the repetitive tasks performed at work. Medical records should detail how the nature of your job contributed to the development of trigger finger or de Quervain tenosynovitis. You’ll likely need to see a doctor approved by your employer for it to be covered under workers’ compensation.
- Document job duties. Collect evidence of your daily work activities that involve repetitive motion or overuse of the hands and wrists. Job descriptions, task lists, or even witness statements from colleagues can support your claim.
- Seek legal advice. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide invaluable assistance, especially in cases where the causal link between your job and the condition may be disputed by the employer or their insurance company.
- File a workers’ compensation claim. Ensure the necessary paperwork is completed to file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina, ideally with the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and help you gather the evidence you need for a successful claim.
What benefits am I entitled to under SC workers’ comp for an injury like trigger finger?
Injured workers in South Carolina are generally entitled to several key types of benefits under workers’ compensation. These benefits are designed to provide medical and financial support to alleviate the burdens associated with work-related injuries or illnesses.
The specific benefits an injured worker can receive typically include:
- Medical benefits. Workers’ compensation covers all necessary medical treatments related to the work injury or illness. This encompasses doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation services, medical devices and even mileage reimbursement for medical-related travel.
- Wage replacement benefits. If the injury or illness prevents the worker from performing their job, they may be eligible for wage loss benefits. These benefits typically provide a portion of the worker’s average weekly wage, usually around two-thirds, for the duration of the disability.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If the injury prevents the worker from returning to their previous employment, they may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. These services assist in training for a new job or adapting to new work conditions.
It’s important to note that the specific benefits, their amounts, and their duration can vary depending on the individual circumstances of the injury or illness. If you are an injured worker, consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand the specific benefits you are entitled to and guide you through the process of claiming them.
Get help from an experienced Columbia work injury attorney
If you work in South Carolina and believe that your trigger finger or de Quervain tenosynovitis is a result of your job, consider reaching out to Chappell, Chappell & Newman.