When diagnosed with neuropathy it is important to understand the different types of neuropathies and how they each might affect one’s life. Being aware of the symptoms and limitations will help you to take the right actions needed after being diagnosed with this medical condition like applying for disability benefits if the individual is one is out of work for a long duration of time due to the diagnosis. To be eligible for disability benefits your neuropathy should be expected to last for at least 12 months.
Overview of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a medical condition which brings about pain and numbness in the feet and hands caused by nerve damage. It affects 25% to 30% of individuals of all ages. Peripheral neuropathy can be due to a traumatic injury, an infection, metabolic problems, toxin exposure and the victim having diabetes. Also the victim may not be able to prevent the disease occurring if there is a family history of its presence.
Signs and symptoms of Neuropathy
There are several symptoms of neuropathy which may include:
- gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling spreading from the feet or hands, to the legs and arms;
- sharp, throbbing jabbing or burning pain;
- extra sensitive to touch;
- pain in the feet during activities;
- poor coordination leading to falling;
- muscle weakness.
You should see your doctor when you notice any unusual tingling, pain or weakness in your hands or feet.
Different Types of Neuropathy
There are 4 main types of neuropathy.
The first is peripheral symmetric neuropathy which affects the feet and hands and is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- numbness, pain, tingling, and burning sensations starting in the toes and fingers then spreading up to the legs or arms;
- loss of muscle tone in the feet and hands;
- inability to feel heat, cold, or physical injury;
- loss of balance.
The second type is autonomic neuropathy which occurs in the nerves that control involuntary body functions like urinating, digestion or heart rate. Some of the effects of autonomic neuropathy include:
- vomiting several hours after eating;
- noticeable drooping of the eyelids and face;
- sexual dysfunction in men and women;
- feeling light-headed and dizzy when standing;
- nausea, diarrhea or constipation;
- heartburn and bloating;
- feeling full after eating even small amounts;
- excessive sweating, even in cool temperatures or while at rest;
- difficulties with speaking or swallowing;
- bladder problems;
- a faster heart rate than normal.
The third type is proximal neuropathy which damages the nerves along a specific part of the body, like the legs or the chest wall. This condition is more common in people who have Type 2 diabetes and in older adults.
Symptoms usually occur on one side of the body, but in a few cases symptoms may occur in the other side, too. They include:
- severe, sudden pain in the hip and thigh or buttock;
- shrinking and weakness of the thigh muscles;
- difficulty getting up from the sitting position.
The fourth type is mononeuropathy or focal neuropathy which can affect any nerve in the face, torso or leg. It often comes on suddenly and is mostly found in older adults. The symptoms depend on the nerve which is involved but could include any of the following:
- chest or stomach pain;
- difficulty with focusing the eyes, double vision or an ache behind one eye;
- pain in the front of the thigh;
- pain in the shin or foot;
- paralysis on one side of your face (Bell's Palsy).
In Event of Diagnosis - Steps to Take
If you are diagnosed with one of the 4 types of neuropathy and you know your symptoms won’t allow you to work and they will last for at least 12 months you may be entitled to file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. This will help you through any financial hardship you are suffering due to your neuropathy diagnosis.
The first step you need to take is to check to see if neuropathy is in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book because, if it is, winning your claim for disability benefits is much easier.
The second step to take is to gather together all the evidence you can to prove the neuropathy will prevent you from working. You should get a recent medical report from your physician, which should include your treatment and likely recovery time. Recent test results are useful too. You can ask your doctor to conduct a Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC) test which shows what your physical and mental capabilities are while you are suffering from neuropathy. Any documents you receive you should keep in a safe place while you are filing your claim for disability benefits.
As soon as you have gathered together all the necessary documentation you may file your claim by completing the form online, sending it by mail or dropping it off at your nearest SSA office. You may be asked to attend an interview before a decision is made about your eligibility for disability benefits.
Help From an Attorney
Often, disability claims are denied with the first application due to the fact that insufficient evidence has been provided showing the applicants inability to work while suffering from neuropathy. An attorney may work on your behalf to get the benefits you deserve. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation today!