Also known medically as Dupuytren’s Contracture, claw hand is a condition that frequently affects workers who are carrying out repeated movement with their hands. Cases of it are still common in the UK and being able to identify the symptoms can be an important part of seeking treatment before the condition worsens.
What is claw hand?
‘Claw hand’, medically known as Dubuytren’s Contracture, is a condition where the fingers on a hand become permanently bent into a flexed position. The initial symptoms are small hard nodules that begin to form under the skin of the palm. Over time, these nodules can merge to form a cord of tissue that stops the fingers from being completely straightened.
The symptoms of claw hand include:
- Thickening or a nodule in the palm, which can begin with or without pain.
- Increasing loss of range of motion of the affected fingers.
- Puckering of the skin as it passes over the flexor tendon just before the crease of the finger.
Over time, claw hand will decrease a sufferer’s ability to hold objects. In some cases, people have also reported severe hand pain, as well as aching and itching around the affected area. The NHS has identified other conditions that have similar symptoms and that people sometimes confuse with Dubuytren’s Contracture. Ganglion, calluses and trigger finger are all similar, and are conditions that are similarly aggravated by manual labour. Vibration white finger is another hand condition that is known to be caused by the specific type of manual labour that involves a pneumatic drill or similar tool.
Can I make a Dubuytren’s Contracture claim?
There are a number of factors that are said to contribute towards an individual developing ‘claw hand’. There is a fair amount of medical debate as to whether it can be entirely attributed to working in a manual labour job. There are other factors that can contribute towards dubuytren’s contracture. These are:
- Genetic predisposition
- Heart disease
Despite these factors placing you at a greater risk, working in a manual labour job is also a major causational factor, and your case will likely fall into the category of valid industrial disease claims. You will be able to make a claim if you can prove that your job role has either caused or made your condition worse.
What is my employer’s duty of care?
All employers are required to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This includes fulfilling all of the correct health and safety measures. These requirements include:
- Ensuring that workers do not work excessive hours that may lead to accidents.
- Providing areas in which workers can rest.
- Ensuring a generally safe working environment, free of avoidable hazards.
- Providing communication channels for employees to raise any safety concerns they may have.
- Clearly defining how a job should be correctly carried out and undertaking any risk assessments that are necessary.
How long could a claim take?
There will be two stages in the process of making a claim. These two stages are:
- Determining who is held liable for your injury. If it occurred in your workplace, then this will most likely be found to be your employer.
- The medical evidence that your doctor will provide to show how your Dupuytren’s Contracture has affected your daily life.
With the help of specially trained solicitors, your claim could potentially take a much shorter period of time and you could receive compensation and treatment sooner than you would expect.