Chronic pain from carpal tunnel, workers' comp doctors no help?

by Nikki
(Bakersfield, California, USA)

I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I have been dealing with this problem for a year and a month now. I saw an approved Workers' Comp doctor. I was x-rayed, examined and told that I had carpal tunnel. They did the electrode test to confirm it. My right hand is worse than my left according to the test, however my left hand is in more pain than my right.

I was prescribed many different medications throughout the year. All of them failed to help or made me sick. I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon who recommended cortisone shots. So far I have received four in the left hand and two in the right. My pain level went down, but it's not completely gone. I wear braces, always.

The pain has become worse over time. It now travels to my elbows. I was also told that I now have tendinitis. The pain also shoots up the shoulder to my back. I sought out a second opinion because the first orthopedic doctor says he doesn't want to do surgery yet. The second doctor says that I have been through enough and recommends surgery.

Meanwhile at my workers' comp insurance, I have been passed from one doctor to the next. The most recent doctor has told me that she doesn't think that I have carpal in the right hand because "it doesn't hurt as bad."

She also said that she is not recommending surgery and that she is lifting my restrictions because "Hard work is good for the hands" and that "If you were my sister I would not recommend surgery."

Should I go with the first orthopedic doctor or the second? For someone who is in as much pain as I am, they still tell me that it is only a mild case of carpal tunnel. What can I do? Thank you for any info.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Chronic pain from carpal tunnel, workers' comp doctors no help?":

Nikki (Bakersfield, California, USA):

It is really up to you. You want the pain to stop, which is certainly understandable. To relieve the pain may require surgery. Whether or not workers' compensation will approve the surgery will depend on whether or not they rely on your first doctor’s opinion, or the second doctor’s opinion.

To be on the safe side, speak with the workers' compensation representative and ask to be seen by another orthopedic physician approved by the insurance company. Hopefully the workers' comp representative will agree. If so, there may be at least two (2) results.

The third doctor may not recommend surgery. Moreover, the new doctor may believe you are sufficiently healed to be able to return to your previous work duties. If that occurs, you will be in a difficult position...then it would be two out of three doctors who have lifted your restriction. If that occurs, the insurance company may deny further treatment.

In the alternative, the third doctor may fully agree you need surgery. If you believe surgery is required, and the new doctor agrees, there is a better chance the workers' comp insurance representative will approve the surgery. If you continue to have problems, speak with a workers' comp attorney. Most offer free initial consultations.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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