As you sit at your computer to type an email, sharp pains are felt throughout your arm, wrist and hand. You find it difficult to move your fingers, and worry that you may drop your cup of coffee if you attempt to pick it up. Victims of carpal tunnel syndrome are all too familiar with these debilitating symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs as a result of pressure on a nerve in the wrist caused by swelling. Fortunately for sufferers, Social Security disability may provide benefits.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome That May Indicate Disability
Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause symptoms that make it difficult to work or carry out every day tasks. These symptoms include:
- Weakness in the hand.
- Numbness or tingling in the thumb, fingers, or palm.
- Difficulty moving fingers.
- Difficulty gripping or carrying items.
- Sharp or dull pain in the arm, wrist, or hand.
In order to obtain Social Security disability benefits, you will need to demonstrate that these symptoms exist in a severe manner.
Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Once you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, your treating physician will likely suggest several courses of treatment. These treatment options include:
- Wearing a splint on the affected wrist.
- Making certain changes to your work environment in order to reduce symptoms.
- Taking oral medication.
- Having surgery to cut the ligament that is pushing on the nerve.
Since surgery is clearly the more invasive treatment, it is typically used as a last resort. These forms of treatment will typically work well for most people. In some cases, however, victims are left with permanent weakness, numbing, and tingling in the affected areas. It is also important to note that if the carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by rheumatoid arthritis, surgery is less likely to be successful.
Obtaining Social Security disability benefits for this condition can be difficult because claim examiners often find that the symptoms do not rise to the level of a disability. If you apply for benefits and are denied, you should strongly consider appealing. Many applicants are able to be successful upon appeal provided they can demonstrate sufficient impairment with medical evidence.
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by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.