The workers’ compensation claims costs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) are high, compared to other work-related musculoskeletal disorders. However, the full economic loss that results from work-related injury also includes costs borne by workers and their households. One of the largest of these additional costs is the long-term loss of earnings, which can extend long beyond the period of payment of wage replacement benefits to claimants whose injuries temporarily prevent them from working.
Workers with CTS face significant loss of earnings over the long run
SHARP examined the loss of earnings of CTS sufferers with time-loss claims compared to workers with claims for two other types of injury/illness claims. This allowed us to compare how CTS sufferers fare compared to other workers, while accounting for non-injury-related factors, such as age, gender and industry.
The results of this study showed the economic impact that CTS can impose on workers and their households. Workers with CTS were found to have significant loss of earnings over the long run. The cumulative excess loss of earnings of workers with CTS claims was estimated to be between $232 million and $368 million over the seven years following their claim, a per claimant loss of between $52,000 and $83,000.
These results underscore the importance of efforts by business, labor and government to prevent CTS, to attain early diagnosis and treatment of CTS cases, and to accommodate workers to an early and safe return to productive employment.
The economic burden of carpal tunnel syndrome: Long-run earnings of CTS claimants in Washington State, 1993-1994
SHARP Stats: CTS and Chronic Conditions
Marcum JL, McHugh A, Foley M, Adams D, and Bonauto D (2018). The Economic Effect of Chronic Comorbidities in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Workers' Compensation Claimants, Washington State. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001451. Research Findings
Foley M and Silverstein B (2015). The long-term burden of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome relative to upper-extremity fractures and dermatitis in Washington State. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. DOI:10.1002/ajim.22540 Research Findings
Foley M, Silverstein B and Polissar N (2007). The economic burden of carpal tunnel syndrome: Long‐term earnings of CTS claimants in Washington State. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. DOI:10.1002/ajim.20430