Can Automobile Accidents Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

An article at InjuryBoard.com (a community of personal injury law firms, attorneys, safety industry experts, and consumer advocates) discusses a common cause of hand injuries:

According to Dr. Elliot L. Ames, carpal tunnel syndrome can result from acute injury, as indicated by a retrospective study. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome developed in 96 patients within 2 months after an automobile accident in a study conducted by Dr. Ames. Forty-four (44) of these ninety-six (96) patients underwent carpal tunnel release. It is postulated that the mechanism of injury is blunt trauma from the steering wheel or dashboard.

The carpal tunnel joint on the wrist are in close proximity as the hand grasps the steering wheel, and as a result, are vulnerable during impact. The injury can occur when the hand is braced on the steering wheel at the time of a front or rear-end collision. Because the base of the thumb can be injured by the steering wheel and the carpal tunnel is in close proximity, it is reasonable to calculate the carpal tunnel takes blunt trauma during impact. [Read more]

This is an interesting finding. It’s not something I’d considered before, but it certainly makes sense that your hands can be severely injured in car accidents, and that the symptoms may not show up immediately, but may take awhile to present themselves.

Have your hands been injured in automobile accidents? If so, please share your story.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

5 Comments:

  1. Elizabeth Carroll

    On December 1, 2006 while driving North on I 15,which was under major road expansion construction, a 2 car collision occurred just in front of me, the 2 cars where spinning across the interstate because they hit a cement barrier. All 3 open lanes stopped, as I was watching the 2 cars and completely focusing on the progressing accident, I felt a severe impact to the back of my car, I just reacted so fast that all I remember is that as I lunged forward I grabbed the steering wheel with all my force, I held on to it a few seconds only to see my right hand grabbing the steering wheel with great force. I actually felt that I broke the steering wheel off the steering column.

    When the police officer arrived he saw how shocked & scared
    I was, he helped me get out of the car to see if I could stand. I eventually was well enough to drive home.I was only about 5 miles from my home. At first I must have been in shock because I just felt dazed. It wasn’t until about 4 to 5 hours after the accident that I experienced pain throughout my back, shoulders, and arms. I did go to my chiropractor later that same afternoon. I returned to him for treatment 3 times the following week. After the 4th visit, he recommended I see a orthopedic surgery. I did and
    I was given a thorough examination, the doctor felt I may be fine if I had physical therapy at least 3X a week. It was while in physical therapy that my hands were hurting as well as fingers. This was a new sensation, I never experienced anything like this, in addition to therapy, I had hand/finger exercises to do as well as being given 2 hand braces to be wore at night while sleeping.

    Around the end of January or the beginning of February I was told I will need surgery on both hands, the doctor identified my problem as carpal tunnel syndrome. Being that I had been retired for over 2 years, and being a former teacher it was probably due to the accident according to the doctor. When my health insurance was notified re: approval for surgery, they learned this was due to an auto accident. I was called by my health provider and asked why I was having them billed rather than the auto insurance. I told them the claims adjuster at Farmers Insurance told me to have my health insurance pay and then Farmers would reimburse me all the co-pay I would pay. I was told this is not accurate, I need to have my auto insurance pay this surgery and all the bills incurred by the accident. When I called my auto insurance and told them what happened, they were very brief, to the point and told me to get a lawyer and they will not deal with me, just my lawyer.

    I did hire a lawyer back in February, 2007. The insurance company has made my life a complete hell! They claim I had preexisting conditions. I never, ever had any problems with my hand. My lawyer has so much medical documentation showing what I have been going to a doctor and chiropractor for the past 10 years. Only one time about 6 months before the accident,was there a reference to some tingling of fingers while I was experiencing leg pains due to driving under adverse highway conditions due to the construction on I 15. For about 4 months I was driving round trip about 30 miles taking my disabled son to his day treatment program. Some days I would take 2 hours just to drive the 30 miles due to the construction. I felt my legs were getting a cramp so i went to the doctor to have it checked. I was asked if I had other symptoms with my hand or back. I merely answered and told the doctor that after holding the steering wheel for a long time and sometimes if I wrote for a long tome, I would have a tingle in my finger but it would go away and I would not feel any pain.

    Farmers Insurance is really Swiss owned and called Zurich Financial, they also use a computer generated program called Colossus that is used for the purpose to pay less cash settlement for legitimate injuries. My case is very clear, my left hand responded to therapy, the brace I wore as directed and the hand exercises were done as requested by my orthopedic surgeon. He even had my symptoms evaluated 2 separate times by a neurologist. Unfortunately, Farmers has victimized me for 2 years by accusing me of preexisting conditions. They had had their orthopedic surgeon see me with my attorney present for one hour. During that hour, he asked so many unrelated questions from years ago at work, my life style,and he made so many untrue assumptions that he feels I have had a preexisting condition, he even stated that it was not necessary for my orthopedic surgeon to refer me to a neurologist for test and evaluation. I am so devastated that a medical doctor would consult with an insurance company and make recommendations that another orthopedic had unnecessary test run on a person who was in a severe accident and was due to have surgery involving the nerves and recommend that a doctor who is a “nerve” specialist not be consulted.

    My insurance refused to give me a cash settlement during the settlement conference because they claim I had a preexisting condition, I am completely demoralized, victimized and feel I have no control over my life after almost 2 years of being accused of lies, statements taken out of context and worst of all, using personal background information for convolution of the truth so as not to pay for a legitimate claim. I also feel the insurance corporations need to be current on all new scientific and medical findings so they can do the job of properly paying out claims for their injured clients who had the misfortune of being hit by an uninsured or under insured motorist.

    I, Elizabeth M Carroll have written the truth. re: my experience with carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand is due to the trauma my wrist and right hand suffered from a automobile accident on December 1, 2006. Thank you for your time.

  2. SPEND MINIMUM OF 40 HOURS–4 TEN HOUR DAYS DRIVING 4X4 VEHICLES ON ROUGH DIRT ROADS, BEEN DOING THIS FOR 2 YEARS AND AM STARTING TO DEVELOP CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROMES IN MY LEFT HAND AND WRIST

  3. Thank you Elizabeth, I too have been injured in a rear end collison, mine resulted in a total neck fusion, I suffer from a vascular narcrosis, and have both of my hips totally replaced and 12 years ago several disc replaced in my neck. Due to the way I was sitting in my car while at a red light, i did not hit the dash board on the passenger side but was pushed into the dash board and then propelled backwards from my seat belt, as a result of this my face and arms were imediatlly numb, I was rushed to the hispital by ambulance and was strapped to a board for 2 hours this was unbearable due to my hips, I begged God to let me pass out. After hours in the emergency room I was finally released but not after a totally series of test, while in the hospital I started getting a sever headacke compared to a migraine this lasted for 6 months before the pain sight injections took effect, I went 2x a week for months, I also saw a chiropracter 3x a week for 4 months a phyicotherapist 2x a week for 2 months ( to learn to deal with the ringing in my ears and the strees at work) all of this while working 40 hours a week as a collections agent. My like has been turned upside down. I too went throgh a series of nurological test for the sever pain and tingling in my neck and arms and legs, 12 years prior to this I feel and dislocated a disc in my lower back after the intial healing period this caused me no problems, but since the accedint it has gotten severly worse.This issue has not really been explored. In May of 2009 I was sent for a spinal tap, ans evaluation the Dr imedditly sugested surgery , I elected to try the epadurals first, this was administerd by a young woman that could not find a vain in my hand to put the IV into ( I have had at least 10 in my life) she advised me that my vains were to small to put the neddle. The young woman then proceded to train another young woman who could not have been over 19 how to open a vile this scared me when she cut her hand,this did not upset me too much as I was under the imprestion the Dr would be administerinf the actual epadural but to my surporise once I was bent over with my bach to them the first young lady acctually did the procedure, needless to say it did not work? the pain in my neck became worse. later my husband remarked that he heard the same nurse tell another patiant that his skin was to tough to get the neddle in for the IV. I shudderto think what could have happened to me that day one slip could have paralized me. I decided that I could not live like this anymore and focused on getting surgery for my neck ( mind you I have been on 7 diffrent medications for over 2 years) I went to see the surgen that did my first neck surgery and he did his test and MRI and cincluded with the first surgen that the need for surgery was due to the car wreck. Prior to seeing the 2nd Dr I had a slip and fall in my drive way this is not totally uncome when you have both hips replaced, I went to the emergency room just to aire on the side of caution, naturally they run every test they can and take all sorts of exrays and scans noone wants to be responsable for neglagence and why the insurance company pays right. This epasode will come back to haunt me as the first surgens assistant documented that the slip and fall exsasperated my “conditon” now that is all anyone can focus on. Not the 2 years of treatment and the 2 highly qualifyed surgens statement that the accedint was the cause of my problems. but the slip and fall. It amazes me the way things get turned around.I have gone through all this and now the insurance company is claiming that this was all due to my preexcisting conditon” I have gone through so much pain with this and now I am being told by my lawyer that I may lose the lawsuit against this 16 year old driver who was fixing her contact lens in the rear view mirror when she hit my car at a red light. I am still suffering the numness in my arms and shoulders I know have mucel spasams in my byceips if I lift my arms over my head, or try and sweep my floor, anything that I do that causes me to close my hand and keep my arms extended for more that i minuite, I have sever leg cramps as well I wake up at night with both arms so numb that I have to strike them to get the feeling back, this is now 3 years next month. After my first neck surgery I had no issues at all for 10 years the surgey did what it was to do, and now I am being persacuted because of a desease I can not control good luck to all of you who get in a car as it will not matter in the long run if you were at fault or not your going to get a raw deal. My case is now with a insurance review commity

  4. Automobile accidents can cause carpal tunnel syndrome by forcing the wrists to hyperextend under tremendous pressure from the impact of the collision. The result of the collision is so powerful that one extension of the wrists is enough to injure the median nerve. There is a partial analogy between automobile accidents and sexual intercourse as causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. In automobile accidents, the main culprit is the extraordinary pressure applied to the the wrists. In sexual intercourse the pressure is not as much, but the wrists become extended repeatedly, twenty, thirty or forty times. The reason insurance companies refuse to cover carpal tunnel syndrome is because they listen to some experts who are against the idea that repetitive strain injuries can cause carpal tunnel syndrome and believe that preexisting conditions such as rheumatism, diabetes, gout, smoking, pregnancy, kidney disease, just about every condition under the sun are to blame. If such experts are correct then how come the prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome is no more than four percent.

  5. First and foremost, I thank all the dedicated researchers on the subject of CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), a word that I NEVER heard of until after a terrible car accident caused by a negligent driver, client of State farm insurance.

    Second, I also thank Elisabeth Caroll and Eula Gopee for sharing because your stories are mine too. Thus I feel your pains. The system allows Insurance companies to lie, twist and bend every single accident in every possible way. I’m sorry for what you’ve been or what you’re still going through. Please know you are NOT alone because after 11+ months of my car accident caused by a bad/dishonest driver who did NOT yield as the law require and a first lawyer -who must have received money from the insurance to drop my case -case he considered not producing enough money so he can fight for justice as he preaches- I still face my damaged car every day, the liar driver and the silent of justice.
    However, I know the truth always prevail providing you NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER GIVE IN to EVIL (i.e. insurance companies and lawyers who are ready to change side for GREED). I’m blessed to find the last lawyers, open and look forward to working with him to see a long overdue justice prevail and it will if we never give up the fight. Even as small as we might be compared to those big insurance companies -they won’t take their dishonest fortune to their graves. Let’s always keep Faith and have in our minds the story ofDavid and Goliath. No need to tell you who is David in this case. I’m convinced to win because FACTS are out there and one just needs an effective, honest lawyer to bring them to JUSTICE not just preach them as some lawyers seem to on their website instead of Practicing. I’m not saying all lawyers. I’m talking about those who lack business ethics. Similarly regarding Insurance Companies.

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