Arachnoiditis is a disorder that causes chronic pain and neurological damage. It is caused by inflammation of the arachnoid, which is a membrane that normally surrounds and protects spinal nerves from damage. Generally, Arachnoiditis is caused by chemical irritation; infection; spinal injury; chronic compression of spinal nerves, or complications of spinal surgery. The immune system response in the arachnoid causes inflammation. Then, this inflammation tightens around the nerves and causes them to react abnormally. This can cause a variety of symptoms throughout the body. for some, these symptoms can be debilitating. It can be difficult to carry out daily tasks. In some severe cases, this condition can prevent you from being able to work.
Unfortunately, arachnoiditis has no known cure. Because of this, you may have to undergo a period of long-term disability. Below, we will discuss important aspects of filing for your long-term disability insurance for Arachnoiditis.
Is Arachnoiditis Considered a Disability?
Yes, Arachnoiditis is a debilitating pain disorder that can lead to long-term disability. In order to qualify for long-term disability insurance coverage, you will need to prove how your condition affects your capabilities at work. Generally, this is dependent on the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
To qualify for benefits, you must prove to your insurance company that your condition is severe enough to meet their standards. Your disability attorney can help you compile the necessary documentation and information to build a solid claim.
What are the Debilitating Symptoms of Arachnoiditis?
Symptoms for this condition generally stem from damage to the spinal nerves due to inflammation. Those living with Arachnoiditis can experience varying frequencies and severity of symptoms. However, your disability insurance company will need you to provide evidence that your condition is debilitating enough to be considered disabling. The most common symptom is painful burning or stinging sensation in the lower back. In some cases, this sensation can extend to the limbs, or even the whole body. Additional symptoms may include:
- Tingling or numbness in the lower limbs
- Muscle twitches, spasms, and cramps
- Poor bladder or bowel control
- Muscular weakness
- Blurring vision
- Impaired motor function
- Inability to sit or stand for an extended time
- “crawling” skin sensations
- Neuralgia (pain from nerve roots)
It is not uncommon for arachnoiditis to be concurrent with other back and spinal issues, such as Degenerative Disc Disease. Be sure to report any and all symptoms to your doctors. This can help them make a proper diagnosis. Additionally, proper reporting of symptoms allows for your doctor’s report of your condition to be more thorough. This can be important for building your long-term disability insurance claim.
Collecting Medical Evidence for Your Disability Insurance Claim
Your insurance company will require medical proof of your condition, as well as how your symptoms limit you. Firstly, you will need to provide proof of a diagnosis. However, a doctor stating a diagnosis is not enough. The insurance company will likely need to see objective medical evidence that helped them get to that conclusion. For Arachnoiditis, there are a number of tests that may help the doctor diagnose you. This evidence can include Electromyogram (EMG) tests, CT scans, MRIs, or your Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). Additionally, surgical reports, as well as biopsy or pathology reports, can be instrumental in providing data for a diagnosis. Generally, your doctor will need at least one or more of these to properly diagnose. Results from tests or body scan imaging can provide objective medical evidence of your condition.
In addition to diagnostic testing, your disability attorney may recommend doing a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). an FCE is an exam that tests your physical capabilities. These include strength, postural intolerances, fatigue, balance, range of motion, fine & gross motor functions, lifting, carrying capacity, your ability to sit/stand/walk, and more. Overall, this test can provide objective medical evidence to support your disability claim. It shows the insurance company the limits of your physical capabilities.
Appropriate Treatment of Your Arachnoiditis
A diagnosis and proof of symptoms are not the only things you need to show the insurance company. You’ll also need to prove that you are seeking appropriate care for your condition. They will want to see that you are receiving appropriate care and continuing to do so. In fact, they may decide to terminate benefits if you are not in compliance with the appropriate treatment of your condition.
While there is no cure for arachnoiditis, treatment exists to mitigate symptoms and help manage pain. Because of this, the insurance company will look to see that you are following through with this treatment. Treatment for Arachnoiditis often includes oral pain medication, epidural injections, and physical therapy. Additionally, some doctors may recommend electrical stimulation treatments. Unfortunately, even with treatment, many arachnoiditis patients find it hard to fully recover. For most, it can be difficult to ever return to work at full capacity.
Generally, surgical intervention is not recommended for arachnoiditis. This is because it is sometimes caused by surgical treatments for other spinal conditions. Further surgeries may create more scar tissue and/or inflammation, resulting in worsened symptoms.