Fibromuscular Dysplasia – also called FMD - is a vascular disease that causes an abnormal growth within the walls of your arteries. It can be found in any of the body’s arteries, but is most commonly found within the renal arteries – which supply blood to the kidneys and the carotid artery – which supplies blood to the neck and head. Men and women of all ages can be affected by FMD, but the condition is most common among middle-aged women.
The symptoms vary depending on which type of FMD a person suffers with. The main symptoms experienced by those with renal FMD are:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Brutis audible – an audible sound caused by the blood flow, detectable by stethoscope - above flanks or abdomen
Carotid FMD is often without noticeable symptoms. For those who do experience symptoms, the most common symptoms associated with carotid FMD include:
- Migraine headaches
- Neck pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Diminished pulse
- Ischemic stroke
- Subarachnoid hemorrhaging – internal bleeding near the brain
Other symptoms sometimes associated with FMD include pain after eating, weight loss, cold legs and arm weakness.
There is currently no cure for fibromuscular dysplasia. The treatments that do exist are aimed at helping patients manage the symptoms. Common treatments used include angioplasty and surgical revascularization. An aspirin regimen and anticoagulants are often used for those with carotid FMD, especially when a risk of stroke is diagnosed.
Until recently, it was believed that FMD was a very rare condition. However, recent research has suggested that it is more common than previously believed, but is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The condition can lead to bleeding in the brain, stroke, nerve damage and ultimately death.
Medically qualifying for benefits with Fibromuscular Dysplasia
Many people who have fibromuscular dysplasia are able to continue working with adequate medical care. For others, the severity of the symptoms makes it impossible to continue working. Those who are unable to continue working may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
The SSA does not have specific medical guidelines relating to FMD in their Listing of Impairments (the Blue Book). This does not mean, however, that you can’t or won’t be approved for disability based on having FMD. You will have to prove to the SSA through a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation that your condition makes it impossible for you to continue doing any kind of work with is available anywhere in the country and for which you could reasonably be trained.
Specifically, you will want to show the SSA how your FMD – and any other medical conditions you may have – limits your ability to perform basic work functions. You will want to include any limitations your doctor has placed on how much you can lift and how long you can stand, walk or sit. You will also want to show the SSA how FMD-related symptoms such as migraines, anxiety and fatigue affect your ability to concentrate or be productive in the workplace.
Your Fibromuscular Dysplasia Disability Case
Anyone applying for Social Security disability would be well advised to seek the help of an attorney who regularly works with Social Security disability claims. This is especially true for those who suffer from conditions like FMD.
Because FMD does not have a specific Blue Book listing, it is all the more critical that your claim is presented in such a way that clearly demonstrates that it isn’t reasonable to expect you to continue working. Social Security lawyers know how to effectively gather and present the evidence that can help give your disability claim the best chance of approval, both in the initial claim and – if necessary – during the appeals process.