Chicago Long-Term Disability Lawyer

While only an inconvenience for some, neuropathy can be debilitating for others. Unfortunately, peripheral nerve disorders — such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and diabetic neuropathy — are sometimes difficult to diagnose and understand.

In this blog, Bryant Legal Group discusses the diverse causes of peripheral nerve damage, common treatment options, and suggestions for your long-term disability (LTD) claim.

What Are Peripheral Nerves?

Your nervous system is made up of two essential parts. First, your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord, processes and responds to information. Second, your peripheral nervous system, uses nerves that run throughout your body to connect the central nervous system with your muscles, organs, and other structures.

There are three main types of peripheral nerves:

  1. Autonomic nerves control unconscious activities — like breathing, heartbeat, and digestion
  2. Motor nerves control intentional muscle movements — letting you walk, talk, reach, and grasp
  3. Sensory nerves transmit information that your brain interprets as touch, temperature, and pain

Doctors frequently compare your peripheral nerves to telephone lines or internet cables. When they malfunction, the messages they transmit can become garbled, misconstrued, or even lost. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning pain, sensitivity to touch, and muscle weakness.

Doctors refer to these malfunctions as peripheral nerve disorders or neuropathy, and there are more than 100 different known peripheral disorder diagnoses. Today, an estimated 20 million people live with a nerve disorder.

What Causes Peripheral Nerve Disorders?

Because peripheral nerve disorders cover a wide variety of diseases and conditions, neuropathy has many known causes.

Compression

Overuse injuries, swelling, and inflammation can lead to pressure on your nerves. Over time, this pressure can damage the nerve. Common nerve disorders due to compression include median neuropathy (carpal tunnel syndrome) and ulnar neuropathy (cubital tunnel syndrome).

Pressure from herniated discs and other spine problems can cause a different type of nerve damage called radiculopathy. It involves pressure at the nerve’s root and can cause shooting pain, motor weakness, and other serious symptoms.

Trauma

Car accidents, sports injuries, falls, and other traumatic events can lead to nerve damage when nerves are cut, torn, or stretched. Brachial plexus injuries, peroneal nerve damage, and compression injuries are examples of traumatic nerve damage.

Infection

When viruses and bacteria attack your nerves, you might experience nerve damage. You might experience nerve pain and dysfunction due to shingles, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and other viruses. People with HIV are particularly susceptible to nerve damage; roughly 30% of HIV patients experience peripheral neuropathy and another 20% suffer from distal neuropathic pain.

Diabetes and Other Chronic Conditions

Diabetes is the top cause of polyneuropathy in the United States; about 60-70 percent of diabetics experience some form of nerve damage. However, other chronic conditions — including high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and cancer — can also damage your nerves.

Idiopathic Neuropathy

Unfortunately, doctors can’t always pinpoint an exact cause of your nerve damage. Sometimes called idiopathic neuropathy, you might be diagnosed with idiopathic neuropathy if you exhibit signs of a peripheral nerve disorder, but it is unclear what it is causing it.

RELATED: Autoimmune Disease and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide

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Can Doctors Fix My Nerve Damage?

Depending on your type of peripheral nerve disorder, its severity, and its cause, your doctor will suggest a treatment plan. Sometimes, this plan involves surgery, medications, devices like a TENS unit, assistive devices like canes and braces, and lifestyle changes.

Unlike brain and spinal nerves, your peripheral nerves continue to grow throughout your life. This makes them more resilient and can allow for a fuller recovery. However, while doctors can repair herniated discs, remove pressure from your carpal tunnel, and prescribe medications that minimize your pain, they cannot repair every damaged nerve.

Can I Receive LTD Benefits for Neuropathy?

If you only experience some occasional tingling in your fingers, you probably are not eligible for long-term disability benefits. However, many people with peripheral nerve disorders qualify for long-term disability.

Depending on your LTD plan, you must prove that you are either unable to perform your work or any occupation. This analysis requires a careful assessment of your physical and mental abilities, side effects from your medications and treatment plan, and your work history and education.

What to Do If the Insurance Company Says Your Diagnostic Studies Aren’t Consistent With Your Complaints

Because there are so many different forms of neuropathy, even the best doctors sometimes have a hard time diagnosing nerve damage. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to oversimplify their analysis of disabling nerve damage. If you had a nerve study, such as an EMG (electromyography) or NCV (nerve conduction velocity test) that was “within normal limits,” it could result in a denied LTD claim.

However, while diagnostic tests like EMGs and NCTs can help diagnose peripheral nerve disorders, they are not perfect. Something as simple as a technician placing an EMG needle electrode in the incorrect position can impact the results. For this reason, it’s always best to have a well-trained and certified technician conduct your nerve conduction studies. Repeat studies can also help track your condition’s progression.

If the insurance company denied your long-term disability claim due to a “normal” nerve study, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced disability insurance lawyer.

Bryant Legal Group: Fighting for People With Serious Nerve Damage

Bryant Legal Group’s respected disability insurance lawyers are known for their sophisticated legal strategies and client-focused results. If you’re struggling with a nerve disorder and are considering applying for long-term disability benefits, please contact our office for a free consultation. We can help you understand your legal options.

To reach us, please call Bryant Legal Group by calling 312-561-3010 or completing this brief online form.

References
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Chicago Long-Term Disability Lawyer

As you prepare a short or long-term disability claim, you’ll face countless questions about your symptoms, limitations, and daily activities. It can be difficult to articulate accurate, honest answers to questions about your ability to stand, lift, and walk. Thankfully, there are tools that can help.

At Bryant Legal Group, we suggest keeping a disability journal to help you understand the full extent of your symptoms and limitations, giving you information that may lead to a stronger application for benefits and streamlined claim process.

In this article, we explain the essentials of disability journaling and symptom tracking. 

What Is a Disability Journal?

A disability journal isn’t like your junior high diary. Instead, it is a detailed log of your symptoms, daily activities, treatment, and other important information related to your condition or circumstances. Depending on your personal preferences, you may use a daily calendar or planner, a notebook, or a symptom tracking app like Flaredown.

Whether you like to write on paper or track your symptoms electronically, your disability journal should include the following information every day:

  • Physical and mental symptoms
  • Pain and fatigue levels
  • Daily activities and how long you could sustain them
  • Frequency, duration, and reason for your rest periods or naps
  • Treatment protocols — including medications, use of heat or ice, and elevating your legs
  • Side effects from medications or therapy
  • Identified triggers that worsen your symptoms — including high stress, weather, diet, and social interaction

Depending on your medical conditions and diagnosis, you may want to add other specific criteria. If you need help building your journal, consult with your doctors and disability lawyer.

You’ll want to be as specific as possible when you track your symptoms. For example, don’t just note that your pain or depression is “bad.” Instead, track it on a ten-point scale, with one being almost no issues and ten being debilitating symptoms that require hospitalization.

3 Reasons Why a Disability Journal May Strengthen Your Long-Term Disability (LTD) Claim

Admittedly, keeping a detailed disability journal isn’t the simplest process. You’ll need to think deeply and honestly about your symptoms, capabilities, and limitations. However, we believe that symptom-tracking and journaling can refine your disability insurance claim and improve your conversations with your physicians.

1. It’s Easy to Adjust to Your “New Normal” and Ignore Your Symptoms

Humans are remarkably resilient. As you learn to cope with chronic pain, symptoms that wax and wane, and your permanent limitations, it’s easy to adjust and feel as if you’re living your normal life.

This is problematic when you are completing a disability insurance application. When you become too accustomed to your daily routine and chronic issues, it’s easy to miss out on important details about your daily life. When you consistently journal your symptoms and daily activities, however, it can help you articulate and understand the challenges you face.

For example, when you’re filling out your disability application, you may be asked questions about your ability to do chores or cook meals. It’s easy to say that you do these things “normally.” However, your journal might highlight that your meals are now microwaveable “heat and eat” choices or that you typically take a two-hour nap after a half-hour of cleaning.

2. Symptom Journaling Helps Track the Progression of Your Symptoms

Most people’s symptoms change and develop over time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start your disability journal early on — even before you become unable to work. Your flares might become more frequent or plateau. Your activity tolerances might decrease. It’s easy to ignore or adjust to your symptoms.

A journal can help you identify the frequency and duration of symptomatic flares, symptomatic progression, and exactly when your conditions began to negatively impact your work, hobbies, and homelife. 

3. A Symptom Journal Can Help You Discuss Your Conditions With Your Doctors

We’re all guilty of telling our doctors we’re doing “okay” when we’re really not. Some people would rather not admit their vulnerability; others struggle to define their symptoms.

Rather than telling your doctor that you had “a couple flares” since your last visit, you can bring your disability journal with you to your appointments. Then, you can use the information within to help explain your symptoms’ frequency, duration, and impact with precision.

When your doctors understand your situation, they can craft more detailed medical records, work restrictions, and treatment recommendations. Together, these factors can improve the quality of your care, your likelihood of improvement, and the viability of your disability insurance claim.

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The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Bryant Legal Group

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

Request Your Free Consultation

Get the answers and insight you deserve. Our experienced disability insurance lawyers can evaluate your claim and help you understand all your legal options.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.