Mechanic's carpal tunnel

One of my mechanics is claiming carpal tunnel. I always thought repetitive motion was to blame. He does general repair and maintenance and set-ups,
usually with nothing more than a set of Allan wrenches and a 8" crescent. I'm a little leery after he declared bankruptcy a few years ago after applying for and maxing-out numerous credit cards to get all the building materials and rehabbing three houses, go on dive and ski trips and buy his then girlfriend a $10k diamond ring. In fact, he wanted to be paid under the table for the process...I refused. He's lawyered up and refuses our medical protocol. It's rumored that he has another job lined up. I just smell a scam. I know, management is always trying to screw the worker but I value, reward and love my people...he's always been just a "Them" but he's been treated with kid gloves because he IS bright and resourceful but always needed constant motivation. I've always tried to maximize someone's strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
Does anybody have any experience with carpal tunnel syndrome? Is it common to be caused by a mechanic's work? Gee, do you think rehabbing three houses could have been more strain than his job? Or, his Wet-bike?
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Tom Gardner wrote:

Sounds to me like your instincts are right. I've had repetitive motion symptoms for years, due to my use of a PC at work. I just adjust so it doesn't get too bad. I've learned to be ambidextrous in use of mouse.

I'd fight this guy. Probably a losing battle, like most thing s of this sort. You are inevitably the Bad Guy Slavedrive Boss and he the Victimized Working Man whose livlihood is stolen away by your thoughless demands i.e. productivity. At least make him work for it. If you are as good to your other employees as you say, you can doubtless get some backup from some in the form of depositions or even testimony, should it come to that. But most likely your insurance company will negotiate a settlement, and you will have higher premiums and a bad taste in your mouth.
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Tom Gardner wrote:

GET A LAWYER. And yes, I know that you probably already have, but it needed to be said. If you already have one, make sure that he/she is good AT THIS KIND OF THING.
My dad went through the ringer with an employee who hurt her back. He was able, in the end, to show that (a) the way she claimed to have hurt herself was by violating company policy and (b) while she couldn't sort mail without reporting pain she _could_ bar-hop quite effectively. The upshot was that after about 9 months of PITA work by my dad, my mom and their lawyer they didn't have to pay anything.
I don't know how it is where you are now, but in Oregon then worker's comp paid for the actual treatment; my dad's company was only responsible for giving her work at the same pay level that was within her capabilites as specified by her doctor. I suspect that it is the same thing for you. If he's really trying to scam you he'll have trouble doing _anything_ you assign him, so getting the pictures of him rehabbing the 4th house is a good thing. Carpal tunnel is a good thing to pick if you're going to scam someone because it's hard to prove the absense of pain _and_ it comes and it goes.
Keep in mind that you have to treat this whole thing very carefully, because once he's made a claim you cannot discriminate against him, and it's easy to percieve discrimination where none is intended.
Now, if someone could please tell me again why I hesitate to hire anybody...
------------------------------------------- Tim Wescott Wescott Design Services http://www.wescottdesign.com
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snip-------

anybody...
Chuckle!
Aside from about one month of outside help, which I quickly learned to dislike, I ran my two businesses alone. 26 years of knowing what the score was, and not fearing being screwed by someone that I might have tried to help. There were times when I was spread way too thin, but I didn't have to worry about dishonest people interfering with my progress and success. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Harold
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It is certainly possible. One of the most common causes is repetitive work such as typing on a computer, etc but repetitive gripping - such as turning a screwdriver or allen wrench can absolutely cause carpel tunnel. My hands go numb for about a week after working on a project that has a lot of screws.
Having said that, this does sound fishy if he refuses to follow the company medical guidelines. I wonder if such refusal would improve your chances of winning a denied claim case?
Robert

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If he's wanting surgery to correct it, and he's on an HMO, I believe he'll have to get a nerve conduction test before the HMO will approve the surgery. I had the surgery done last year for an extremely painful case of this. It's no laughing matter. Neurologist doing the nerve test said it was the worse case of carpal tunnel he'd ever seen. I'm an airline electrician. He can't scam a nerve conduction test. From your take on it, he does have all the earmarks of an irresponsible a-hole, though.
Garrett Fulton
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Tom, very likely your mechanic is trying to pull off a scam.
You are correct in believing that carpal tunnel syndrome is a consequence of constantly repeated hand actions, not something commonly associated with the work functions performed by a mechanic. It it more typically a complicaton of the very repeated operations performed by barbers, beauticians, pianists, some typists, and others whose physical efforts are largely limited to the muscles and motions of the hand and fingers.
I had a close friend with carpal tunnel syndrome, a beauty shop owner who could not afford a great deal of lost work time. Simple surgery corrected the problem in less than a month.
This link may provide helpful info:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm
Good luck and I suggest you lawer up, because more than likely you have an employee who believes he can get away with a scam.
Harry C.
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If you believe a mechanic does not have repetitive motions in his work you have obviously not worked as a mechanic. These motions combined with running impact wrenches do cause carpal tunnel. Out of three guys in a shop I worked in three had symptoms of carpal tunnel. I had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery with good but not perfect results. I really can't comment on this guy's case but a good doctor can find the cause by performing nerve conduction tests. Steve
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Actually Steve, while in college I did work as a mechanic's grunt for two years, but that was in the days where impact wrenches were unknown and you had to rely on your arm muscles to get the difficult tasks done. Perhaps that was a was a blessing in disguise. My second job at the time consisted of off-loading trucks containing 90# bags of Portland cement that were tossed off the tailgate of the truck to you and you caught them in your arms -- which rather than causing any injury, put me in the best physical condition of my life. Then too, I was about 20 at the time.
The first job related injury that I ever experienced was when I repeatedly picked up and packed 40# packages containing military electronics products from the floor and placed them in mil-spec packaging. This led to a herniated disc in my back, but since it was my own company, I had no one to blame. My Blue Cross policy covered the cost of treatment, but I lost an entire month from work which, when you own your own small firm, is a disaster!
You are correct in stating that nerve conduction tests are the key to a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, but the cause can be very vague. If the guy plays the guitar or serious piano, that could be more of a cause than his job functions. In the case described by the original poster, the person's background provides more than a minor clue that he that he is attempting to pull-off a scam. This is precisly why most firms check out a persons credit history in addition to his/her employment history before hiring.
Harry C.
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| Actually Steve, while in college I did work as a mechanic's grunt for | two years, but that was in the days where impact wrenches were unknown | and you had to rely on your arm muscles to get the difficult tasks | done. Perhaps that was a was a blessing in disguise.
A few years ago an ergonomics person pointed out that you won't see many construction outfits using nailguns anymore. Seems that they started using them to alleviate the carpal tunnel caused by using hammers. However, they were snagging their hoses on stuff, wrenching their backs. Someone noticed that while carpal tunnel was expensive, it was something that could be fixed with known results, but back injuries were even more expensive and with mixed results as to whether or not you even get to keep your employees. Self powered nailguns are popular as a result, but they're a bit on the heavy side, and far from cheap for the small user. Seems you can't win for losing!
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On 27 May 2005 13:58:03 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I am an (ex) mechanic who suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for several years - never got the surgery - but got out of the wrenching business. I still aggravate it occaisionally - using computeri have to be careful how I type. I use the hunt and peck method and get by reasonably well. A good friend, who is a welder just had both wrists done about 2 years ago.

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Here is my experience with CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome). I was an auto mechanic for 12 years without any carpal tunnel problems what so ever. I then went to work for Boeing on the 767 wing assembly line drilling holes and putting in rivets for 8 hours everyday. Within about 9-10 months I had to have the carpal tunnel surgery. Before your employee has surgery his doctor should require the nerve conduction test.
Lane
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CPS can be from dumb habits as well. Had a friend who brought it on himself by his habit of hitting a wrench with the palm of his hand to break a tight bolt. Repeated blows to the right area is what did his. I've got CTS as well but just live with the numbness. When I feel it coming on, I stop and move my fingers around and things get better
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and you can get the numb hands symptom from other reasons. i had it, and the problem turned out to be a ruptured disk in the top part of my neck, with bone impinging on the spinal column.
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Tom Gardner wrote:

I've had the carpal tunnel thing for 15 years, maybe a little more.. I've never had the surgery due to the fact I've heard things can be worse in the end and an aspirin each day that I'm doing what aggravates it seems to be all that's required to keep it at a low level. Welding/chipping, running the electric drill, hammering, surfing the net, riding the motorcycle, running the chainsaw/mower/weedwhip, they'll all bring it on. As will wrenching for someone who's paying me..
As far as this guy goes, I say look at the atitude and past experience; he's got a lawyer, he won't cooperate with your policy regarding his complaint, and he's shown himself to be considerably dishonest.. He's working on scamming you something fierce.
In my experience, it's a condition that can be lived with. Others may have a different experience, I dont' know.. but if he's claiming it's all due to working for you he's either ignorant or a liar.
What's he trying to get out of you? Lifetime unemployment? The surgery? You should certainly not discriminate against him, but can't you put him on a job that is better suited to his condition? At, say, minimum wage.. If you can't cut his pay, you could make him the door guard- give him a stool and make him sit and watch the door so someone don't steal. No books, nothing to distract his attention. If he quits, who cares..
Anyway, a crafty lawyer is in order. It's gonna cost you no matter what you do, and good advice is a good investment- you can use it more than once. You might also change your company policy to directly address this, have everyone sign that they accept whatever screwing you have planned for him and if he don't want to sign he can walk. Can you fire him now for not going by your policy?
Got a snitch in the shop? Maybe they know something that would be good for you to know..
Best of luck with it, hope to hear it turns out good
John
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| One of my mechanics is claiming carpal tunnel. I always thought repetitive | motion was to blame. He does general repair and maintenance and set-ups, | usually with nothing more than a set of Allan wrenches and a 8" crescent. | I'm a little leery after he declared bankruptcy a few years ago after | applying for and maxing-out numerous credit cards to get all the building | materials and rehabbing three houses, go on dive and ski trips and buy his | then girlfriend a $10k diamond ring. In fact, he wanted to be paid under | the table for the process...I refused. He's lawyered up and refuses our | medical protocol. It's rumored that he has another job lined up. I just | smell a scam. I know, management is always trying to screw the worker but I | value, reward and love my people...he's always been just a "Them" but he's | been treated with kid gloves because he IS bright and resourceful but always | needed constant motivation. I've always tried to maximize someone's | strengths and minimize their weaknesses. | | Does anybody have any experience with carpal tunnel syndrome? Is it common | to be caused by a mechanic's work? Gee, do you think rehabbing three houses | could have been more strain than his job? Or, his Wet-bike?
Folks who scam the worker's comp system tweak me to no end because they mess things up for the folks with valid problems. That said, I am currently out on medical LOA, having had shoulder surgery for impingement, and expect to be out for a few more months. I truly do wish I were back at work. A few years ago I was having some weird shooting pains in my arm and hand, only which some of the symptoms said carpal tunnel, but others didn't seem to apply. A nerve conduction test said it wasn't what CTS, which was, for me, great, but that only told me what it wasn't. I later discovered that it was a weird side effect of a medication I was taking and corrected it myself. My wife has been recently diagnosed with carpal tunnel, and the folks were surprised that she said it wasn't work related, even though she could have gotten away with it. The initial symptoms predated her current job, and we think it was caused by how she holds her hands while she sleeps. She's working on management of the situation rather than immediately jumping for surgery. Cortisone shots seems to have helped her a lot. I'd have been really ticked had she said it was work related. I do think that I have some inflammation in my wrists, that if allowed to continue the aggravation, would turn into it. I can only hammer nails for a little while now before I have to take a break, and some jobs at work (even at home) are definitely off limits, or very short term for me. We're all getting old at work, so painful jobs get a lot of understanding and help. If you, his supervisor or foreman are paying attention, they will see a legitimate situation coming. These things don't pop up overnight by any means. I hate to tell anyone this, but the ways to get paid actual cash for L&I situations are pretty few, and to get caught scamming the system usually has some pretty serious implications. I'm sure when he gets into the system he'll learn this. Throwing lawyers into the mix never helps, but you have the state system and specialized lawyers who can help. Never cheap, but the alternatives of screwing it up aren't pretty for you, either. Different states have different laws, with various abilities to scam the system, so what state you're in makes a huge difference. I don't know how much of the process you are allowed to know, how much the L&I system will tell you, and what is done to preclude scamming the system. If the system is state controlled, time to get on the phone and start asking questions. Some systems are setup to benefit the employee completely, assuming almost all the way that the employee is right, and some the other way around. With my case, my employer is self administered, so I get calls all the time from a nurse checking on things and seeing how things are going. It was obvious from the way some of the questions were worded that they were sniffing around for a scam, which I can completely understand. My boss' access to information is really limited, but I've been really straightforward, including about some issues that threw a monkey wrench in my existing treatment plan. I think it's gone a long way to keep folks from camping outside my house with a camcorder! If you smell a rat, there's likely a rat, but I'm not sure how much you can do about it.
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Hello Tom,
I'm replying to you directly on the off-chance that this guy (or one of his friends) might read this newsgroup or do a Google search some time in the future.
- Michael
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repetitive
I worked in a machine shop for 30 years and when things got slow. I moved over to the assembly department, because I was low man on the seniority list. It took about a month for both hands and wrists hurt and woke me up in the middle of the night. When I woke up 3 fingers on each hand were hurting. I also got what felt like electric shocks in the palm of my left hand every once in a while at work. The first shock test showed only slight carpal tunnel, so the doctor had me come back in 6 months. Then it was full blown in each hand. I had surgery on the left hand first. I was off work for 3 weeks on workers comp. Then light duty for 5 weeks and then the other hand was done. Same situation. It did help a lot although I would feel strains in my palms like they weren't healed up the from the surgery once in a while. This happened only when I was doing some heavy work. Even though I was back to regular work my hands weren't back to normal, but were a lot better. I got no big check and I wasn't looking for one. I did how ever get the doctor bills paid and reduced pay for the time lost by workers comp. Which was only fair since I had worked at several shops in those 30 years. So why would I expect a company that I worked only 3 years for to give me a big nest egg. I am still there and have been there for 8 1/2 years now. Carpel tunnel isn't the end of the world, because you can still work after surgery.
One thing you don't want to do is have surgery on both hands at the same time. I know someone who did. They had to have some one feed them and clean them off after they went to the bathroom. I still wonder what they were thinking when they went in for surgery.
Richard W.
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One thing you don't want to do is have surgery on both hands at the same

A friend of mine had both of his done recently, and told me it was no big deal. I showed him the 1-1/2" scar on my right hand that was done 15 years ago, he said ouch! I asked to see his and you literally couldn't see it. He said it was only about 1/2" and was horizontal across the wrist, done in an existing skin wrinkle. Mine was vertical, (parallel with the fingers). I think the operation is a lot less invasive than it was.
Lane
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"Lane" <lane (no spam) at copperaccents dot com> wrote in message wrote in message news:Y--dnYsNgebZTArfRVn->

He
an
Both of mine are in the palm area in a natural crease. I have to put my glasses on to see them. Years ago they would go right down your wrist and leave a pretty big scar. I am glad they don't do that anymore. When I had mine done it was almost a week before I could lift a piece of paper between two fingers with out it hurting.
Richard W.
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