Getting Long-Term Disability (LTD) for Radiculopathy
Many people suffer from radiculopathy. While for some the pain associated with radiculopathy is mild, for others it can be severe and prevent them from working. At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our team knows how to handle long-term disability (LTD) claims for radiculopathy.
What is Radiculopathy?
There are nerves that run from your spinal cord to different parts of the body. The spinal cord is protected by bones called vertebrae, which form your spine. But when your vertebrae suffer trauma, they can cause compression, impingement, and irritation of the nerve roots that are located in the spinal column. This trauma can occur due to injury, aging, or other conditions. Because these nerves run throughout the body, including the arms and legs, impingement and irritation of the nerve roots in the spine can cause radiculopathy (i.e., pain, weakness, or numbness) stemming from the spine and into the arms and legs. Thus, although radiculopathy stems from the spine, it can cause debilitating pain throughout the entire body.
Radiculopathy can be caused by several different conditions. Some causes include herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, tumors, and fractures.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
If you suffer from radiculopathy, you may experience pain in different areas depending on the region of your spine that is affected. You may be suffering from cervical radiculopathy if you have pain, numbness, or tingling that runs from your neck, through your shoulders, down your arms, and into your hands. Typically, radiculopathy is more significant on one side. Pain and tingling sensations in your torso region could be indicative of thoracic radiculopathy, while pain in your lower extremities and pain while walking or sitting could be indicative of lumbar radiculopathy.
Radiculopathy can be diagnosed through a physical exam of your spine, muscles, and reflexes to determine which movements cause pain. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can also help identify issues in the spine that could be causing the impingement and compression of the nerve roots.
Radiculopathy is treated differently depending on the severity of your pain and the region of your spine that is causing the radiculopathy. Some people can manage their symptoms with heat and ice, while others require medications such as nonsteroidal medicines, steroidal injections, or narcotics. The appropriate medication is dependent on your pain level. Narcotics are typically reserved for severe pain that cannot be relived via non-steroidal medications or steroidal injections. Steroidal injections are temporary pain relievers and will require consistent visits to your doctor in order to manage the pain.
Physical therapy is also often a part of treatment for radiculopathy. Physical therapy can help those with minimal pain live as close to their previous level of functioning as possible. For more severe cases, physical therapy can provide patients with the ability to independently complete certain tasks, such as the daily activities performed at home. Although physical therapy is a common treatment, your specific therapy regiment will likely be dependent on the region of the spine that is causing your radiculopathy as well as your pain levels and restrictions.
In severe cases, surgery is an option to treat radiculopathy, but it is usually a last resort for patients. Common surgeries for radiculopathy include spinal decompression surgery, spinal fusion, foraminotomy, or disc replacement surgery. Spinal surgery is typically a significant procedure that may cause long-term and sometimes permanent side effects such as limited endurance, stiffness, and soreness.
Radiculopathy Can Impact Your Ability to Work
Radiculopathy can impact your ability to work in several ways. For example, radiculopathy of the lumbar region can severely limit the amount of time you can stand or sit due to the significant pain in your lower back and legs caused by the impinged nerve roots. It would be challenging to complete an 8-hour workday reliably and consistently if you cannot sit or stand for an extended period of time without intense pain.
Cervical radiculopathy can cause severe neck and shoulder pain that can limit the amount of weight you can lift and the amount to which you can use your arms or move your neck. Further, cervical radiculopathy can impact your ability to use your arms and hands reliably. Numbness and tingling can interfere with your ability to write, type, use the telephone, or carry and move objects. While your cervical radiculopathy may only affect one arm or hand, it can prevent you from using your both arms or hands in unison. Moreover, the pain from radiculopathy is not only physically limiting, but it can have cognitive impacts as well. The pain can be distracting and make it difficult for you to focus.
Additionally, your treatment could also interfere with your ability to work. For example, pain can be fatiguing, and your tolerance for activity may be enough to complete physical therapy a few times per week but not enough to complete a 40-hour workweek in addition. Also, if your treatment involves narcotics, they may cloud your judgment and negatively impact your ability to cognitively function throughout the workday.
Making a Long-Term Disability Claim for Radiculopathy – Contact CCK
If you suffer from radiculopathy that negatively impacts your ability to work, you might be able to apply for long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Although radiculopathy can be objectively verified through physical exams, x-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests, this does not automatically mean that the insurance company will approve your claim. Insurance companies do not always act in the claimant’s best interest, and long-term disability claims can often be difficult and time-consuming. The skilled team at CCK is here to take over the claim process for you so you can focus on your health.
Whether you need to file an initial claim or appeal a denial of a claim, we will assist in gathering your medical records and the appropriate documents from your insurance company. We will review them thoroughly and come up with a plan to move forward and build the strongest possible claim for you.
We work to arrange reports from your doctors, family, friends, and coworkers who can write statements based on their own observations regarding your condition. These reports and statements can help bolster your medical records and strengthen your claim.
Further, depending on the issues with your particular claim, our team can arrange for vocational experts to opine on different aspects of your condition or claim. For example, your claim may benefit from a functional capacity evaluation in which an expert will conduct an exam to determine your functional capabilities and use that data to opine whether you are capable of working.
Alternatively, your claim may require the opinion of a vocational expert. A vocational expert can opine whether you can work in your occupation or any occupation given your functional restrictions and limitations. Our team can determine what reports and experts, if any, would help your long-term disability claim. Once all the evidence is gathered, we will handle submitting the comprehensive claim package or substantive appeal. If necessary, we are prepared to take your claim to court.
At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, our team of attorneys and professionals have many years of experience dealing with cases involving radiculopathy. We understand the difficulties this condition can cause, and we will work to ensure your claims process is as hands-free for you as possible. We can assist you at any stage of your claim. Contact us at (401) 237-6412 for a free consultation to see if we can assist you with your long-term disability claim.
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