What to Know About Dupuytren’s Disease and Workers Comp

Dupuytren’s disease, also known as Dupuytren’s contracture, is a condition that affects the connective tissue under the skin of the palm and fingers. This disease causes the fingers to curl inward, which can significantly impair hand function and impact a person’s ability to perform daily tasks and work-related duties. Understanding Dupuytren’s disease and workers comp is crucial for affected individuals seeking to manage their condition and navigate their rights in the workplace.

Understanding Dupuytren’s Disease

Causes and Risk Factors: Dupuytren’s disease is characterized by the thickening and tightening of the fascia, a fibrous layer of tissue beneath the skin in the palm. The exact cause is not well understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component. It is more common in men over 50, individuals of Northern European descent, and those with a family history of the condition. Factors such as smoking, diabetes, and heavy alcohol consumption may also increase the risk.

Symptoms and Progression: The condition typically begins with small lumps or nodules in the palm, which gradually form into thick cords that pull the fingers toward the palm. This process can take years, and while it may cause discomfort, it is usually not painful. However, as the disease progresses, it can significantly limit hand function, making it difficult to grasp objects, write, or perform fine motor tasks.

Treatment Options: Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, non-surgical treatments like steroid injections, enzyme injections, or physical therapy may help manage symptoms. In more severe cases, surgical intervention, such as fasciectomy or needle aponeurotomy, may be necessary to release the contracted tissue and restore hand function.

Dupuytren’s Disease and Workers’ Compensation

Eligibility for Workers’ Comp: Workers’ compensation is designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Whether Dupuytren’s disease qualifies for workers’ comp depends on several factors, including the nature of the job and whether the condition can be linked to repetitive stress or trauma incurred during employment.

Filing a Claim: To file a successful workers’ comp claim for Dupuytren’s disease, it is essential to demonstrate that the condition is work-related. This may involve providing medical evidence and expert testimony linking the disease to job duties. Consulting with a healthcare provider familiar with occupational health and a workers’ comp attorney can be beneficial in gathering the necessary documentation and navigating the claims process.

Benefits and Coverage: If approved, workers’ comp benefits may cover medical expenses related to treating Dupuytren’s disease, including doctor visits, medications, physical therapy, and surgical procedures. Additionally, workers’ comp may provide partial wage replacement for time off work due to the condition and compensation for any permanent disability or reduced earning capacity resulting from the disease.

Legal Considerations: It’s important to understand the legal aspects of filing a workers’ comp claim for Dupuytren’s disease. Deadlines for reporting the condition and filing a claim vary by state, and failing to adhere to these deadlines can jeopardize the claim. Seeking legal advice from a workers’ comp attorney can help ensure compliance with all procedural requirements and improve the likelihood of a successful claim.