Can Peripheral Neuropathy qualify me for Disability Benefits? Part 1
If you are disabled due to the effects of Peripheral Neuropathy you may qualify for disability assistance.
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that occurs when the network of motor and sensory nerves which connect the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body are damaged. This may result in impaired movement, pain, and abnormal sensations in the hands, feet, arms and legs. Approximately 20 million people have some form of peripheral neuropathy, which typically affects people over the age of 55 and although peripheral neuropathy can be painful and debilitating, it is rarely fatal.
Peripheral neuropathies include a variety of conditions and are divided into two classes: mononeuropathies, when there is damage to one nerve (as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), and polyneuropathies, when multiple nerves are damaged (as in Guillain Barre Syndrome).
In acute cases of peripheral neuropathy, symptoms appear suddenly, progress rapidly and resolve slowly, while in chronic cases, symptoms begin slowly, progress slowly and worsen over time. The condition may plateau with symptoms remaining the same for years.
Peripheral neuropathies are identified according to the type of nerve damaged. Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness, tingling, burning sensations and muscle weakness, but will vary depending on the motor, sensory, or autonomic nerves damaged.
Damage to a motor nerve results in muscle weakness, cramps, and twitching. Decreased reflexes, muscle atrophy (decrease in muscle mass), and paralysis may also occur.
Sensory nerves control a wide range of functions.
Damage to sensory nerves may cause a decrease or increase in sensation, usually in the hands and feet, and affect a person’s ability to feel pain. Therefore, it’s important to monitor areas of numbness for injury. Some areas of the body may become abnormally sensitive to touch and a person may feel pain in response to a stimulus that normally doesn’t cause pain. A person with sensory nerve damage may experience a loss of position and be unable to coordinate movement, like walking, or have difficulty maintaining balance.
Contact a Social Security disability attorney at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and see if you can get disability benefits while suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy. If you have been denied disability don’t give up!
Damage to the autonomic nerves that supply the internal organs may result in dizziness, the inability to sweat normally, irregular heartbeat, and gastrointestinal problems.
Sexual function may be impaired and in extreme cases, breathing becomes difficult.
The most common causes of peripheral neuropathy are Diabetes Mellitus and post herpetic neuralgia (or Shingles), but other known causes include:
- Vitamin deficiency, particularly vitamin B12 and folate
- Alcohol abuse
- Environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, pesticides and heavy metals
- Autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Trauma and nerve entrapment (as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
- Certain cancers and chemotherapy
- Infections such as Lyme Disease
Peripheral neuropathy may also be hereditary, though these cases are uncommon, or there may be no known cause.
Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy begins with a neurological exam which includes general questions about your health history and symptoms.
Your doctor may perform a number of diagnostic tests which include the following:
- Electromagnetic Test – measures the electrical activity of muscles and nerves to determine if there is nerve damage, the extent of damage and the potential cause of damage. The Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Condition Velocity test (NCV) are examples of these tests.
- Blood tests – to check for vitamin deficiencies, toxic elements in the blood, and any evidence of abnormal immune system disease.
- Quantitative Sensory Testing (OST) – uses a computer to measure how nerves react to vibration and change in temperature.
- Autonomic Testing – monitors blood pressure, blood flow, heart rate, skin temperature and sweating to see if the nervous system in functioning normally.
Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the cause responsible.
- Peripheral neuropathy caused by a vitamin deficiency can be corrected with nutritional supplements.
- Management of diabetes, though it will not reverse peripheral neuropathy, can improve symptoms and prevent progression.
- Peripheral neuropathy that is linked to an autoimmune disease improves with treatment specific to the disease.
- Prompt treatment of shingles by injection prevents its advancement to postherpetic neuralgia.
- Physical therapy, injections and surgery can treat peripheral neuropathy caused by nerve entrapment, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Ibuprofen, aspirin and creams containing capsaicin can relieve pain.
As in other conditions, following a healthy lifestyle may help prevent peripheral neuropathy.
Avoid alcohol toxicity and exposure to heavy metals and chemicals. Exercise, eat a nutritious diet, and get a Shingles vaccination.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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