Claiming disability status in trigeminal neuralgia is highly subjective. The reason for this is the absence of the disease or its equivalent on the list of impairments considered by Social Security Administration. However, it can be considered a disability if it significantly affects a person’s ability to perform a job.
Is Trigeminal Neuralgia A Disability?
Evaluation of pathophysiology of trigeminal neuralgia reveals that chronic pain is the only symptom that affects the quality of life of the patient. Interestingly, there is no way to predict that the patient is definitely suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. Unlike many other conditions, where there are ample diagnostic methods including blood tests and imaging techniques to confirm the presence of disease, trigeminal neuralgia does not have any confirmatory diagnostic technique. Although MRI sometimes shows the compression of the trigeminal nerve by blood vessels and magnetic resonance angiography reveals that trigeminal nerve is compressed, there is no effective way to analyze the pain experienced by the patient. This is one of the most significant hurdles in claiming for disability by the patients with trigeminal neuralgia. It is advised to consult a disability lawyer for claiming benefits.
The patient for considering himself disabled should fulfill the criteria of disability. To get the payment for disability through Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, the patient should prove that he is suffering from a condition which lasts at least for 12 months and it is the reason that the person may not be able to do work1. Social Security Administration uses a list of impairments for qualifying a person as disabled. Alternatively, if the patient is suffering from a medical condition which is equivalent to the condition listed, then the person is also eligible for disability payments. Unfortunately, trigeminal neuralgia fails to fulfill both the criteria.
However, there is still a way to qualify for disability income for the patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. The process is known as “medical-vocational allowance”. This process does not include the objective inference of the disease through diagnostic techniques and does not go through the impairment listing process. The patient has to prove that symptoms are so severe, and pain is so excruciating that the person is not able to concentrate on his work, and not keeping up his work. If proven, the person may be eligible for disability benefits.
Is Trigeminal Neuralgia A Permanent Problem?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic condition. It is a progressive condition with pain intensity increases from mild at the initial stage to moderate and severe in advance stage. The condition is generally caused because of the compression of trigeminal nerves by blood vessels. Other causes of trigeminal neuralgia include tumor, cyst, arteriovenous malformation, and multiple sclerosis.
In some cases, when the underlying disease is effectively managed or treated, trigeminal neuralgia may cure of its own, however, it is not a likely outcome in most cases2. With general medications, the symptoms can be managed. For permanently treating trigeminal neuralgia, surgery is the most effective way however, it is associated with serious side effects.
In most cases, trigeminal neuralgia is a permanent problem as many patients do not opt for surgical interventions in trigeminal neuralgia. It is also to be noted that the pain does not persist continuously. There are waves of attacks and remissions. Trigeminal neuralgia may be in the remission stage for months or years. However, as the disease progresses, more aggressive treatment is required. This is because the pain-free periods tend to be shorter and the patient frequently experiences an attack of trigeminal neuralgia. Medications include Carbamazepine and Gabapentin and surgical interventions include rhizotomy and microvascular decompression3. Types of rhizotomy are Glycerin/Glycerol Rhizotomy and Radiofrequency Rhizotomy.
Patients who are not able to concentrate on work and are not able to sustain desirable productivity, they may be eligible for disability income. In most cases, the condition is permanent as many patients refrain from undergoing surgery for treating trigeminal neuralgia.