Diabetic neuropathy is not the only cause for losing functional abilities with the hands. A variety of auto-immune disorders (e.g. fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis) can cause the same symptoms. The antibodies that correlate with these disorders are typically detected through lab work ordered by your physician.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is far more common and treatable with surgical interventions and consistent physical therapy.
Osteoarthritis is much more difficult to treat because it typically results from the wear-and-tear of advanced age.
Regardless of the diagnosis causing your hand pain, a strong case involving this medical condition typically charts the following course:
- Referrals: Establish care with a rheumatologist and a pain management specialist. Your primary care physician can refer you to one.
- Symptoms: Tell all your providers what you cannot do in your everyday life with your hand(s) because of this problem.
- Compliance: Take your pain medications every day. Find a system to make this work for you. (If the SSA sees any signs of non-compliance in your medical records, then they will severely discount the severity of this condition.)
- Escalate your Treatment: Ask your doctor about these procedures:
- X-ray, MRI or CT-scan. The MRI or CT-scan could be more expensive, but they are more precise imaging that will show more about what’s causing your pain than just an x-ray.
- Nerve conduction study. This tests the degree of nerve damage affecting your extremities.
- Laboratory testing for certain conditions, like fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Physical therapy. Go to all the sessions if you get one—do not miss those sessions or quit, even if you feel like physical therapy is not working for you.
- Trigger point injections or corticosteroid injections.
- The Doctor will ask about how much relief this provided. Emphasize what you are still unable to do, not just how much relief you felt.
Discuss surgical options. Whether or not you get surgery is your choice. Obviously going through with it will make a strong impression on your judge about how severe this problem is for you. But even the doctor writing down in the medical records that he/she recommended the surgery will create a strong impression too.
Medical Opinion: Ask your doctor to complete the Treating Source Statement (Packard Law Firm provides this).
Durable Medical Equipment: If you have a wrist brace prescribed, then wear it to every medical appointment, even on your good days.
Written by: Jacob Hugentobler, Hearing Attorney
What Aggravates Rheumatoid Arthritis? Rob Dillard, November 27, 2019, Doc Wire News. Available at https://docwirenews.com/post/what-aggravates-rheumatoidarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis OrthoInfo. Available at https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Guide to Symptoms & Solutions Neurology Office Joseph Kandel, M.D. & Associates. Available at https://neurologyoffice.com/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-a-guide-to-symptoms-solutions/
Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Central Coast Orthopaedic Medical Group, available at https://centralcoastortho.com/patient-education/osteoarthritis-of-the-hand/