Dupuytren’s Contracture Long Term Disability Attorneys
Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand disorder that results in the inability to straighten one or more fingers. Approximately five percent of Americans suffer from this disorder. Dupuytren’s contracture often makes performing manual tasks difficult or impossible. Affected individuals may find it impossible to write, type, perform a trade, or use tools.
If Dupuytren’s contracture affects your life and prevents you from working, you may qualify for long term disability benefits. Abell and Capitan Law has experienced upper extremity impairment long term disability attorneys that can help you obtain disability benefits for your impairment.
What Is Dupuytren’s Contracture and What Are the Symptoms?
Dupuytren’s contracture occurs when the connective tissues in the hand, including the fascia – a layer of fat and fibrous tissue under the skin – shorten and thicken. When that shortening and thickening occurs, the affected fingers begin to get pulled downward, and hand mobility is limited to only a range of bent finger positions. An affected person cannot straighten their fingers.
The condition tends to happen after age 50 and can happen to anyone. But it can be more severe in men. Dupuytren’s contracture usually starts in just one hand, but in most people, it ultimately affects both hands.
Common symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture may include:
- One or more small hard nodules felt under the skin in the palm
- Nodules thicken and contract or tighten, developing into tight bands of tissue
- The fingers, most often the ring finger, are pulled forward, curling toward the palm
- Not being able to lay the hand flat on a table or extend the affected fingers
- Your hand is not able to work as well
About 25 percent of people with Dupuytren’s contracture experience inflammation or uncomfortable pressure, tension, tenderness, burning, or itching in the affected hand.
What Causes Dupuytren’s Contracture and Who Is at Higher Risk?
The exact cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is unknown, but it is most likely hereditary. The genes scientists think are associated with this disorder are genes that regulate cell growth and division. Particularly, the associated genes regulate connective tissue cells called fibroblasts. Dupuytren’s contracture causes excess myofibroblasts, cells that form the basic unit of muscle fibers. An excess of myofibroblasts results in muscle contraction.
While Dupuytren’s contracture is mainly hereditary, other associated risk factors exist. Sometimes it occurs in people with no family history of it. And sometimes, people with a family history of it never develop symptoms.
Dupuytren’s contracture may also be linked to cigarette smoking, alcoholism, liver disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems, or medicines used to treat seizures or epilepsy. The condition is also most common in people whose ancestry is Scandinavian or Northern European.
How Can Dupuytren’s Contracture Be Treated?
There is no cure for Dupuytren’s contracture. And because the condition is not life-threatening, many people don’t get treatment. But, with treatment, you can slow the condition’s development and help improve symptoms.
Surgery is the most common treatment for advanced cases. In surgery, a doctor removes the thickened tissue. While surgery can provide immediate relief, some people find that their symptoms return.
Enzyme injection is a newer procedure and can be less invasive than traditional surgery. After numbing the hand, a doctor injects an enzyme into the nodules of connective tissue. The enzyme then breaks down and dissolves the connective tissue. When the fingers straighten, the doctor can usually manipulate the hand and break the connective cord manually.
Another newer and less invasive procedure is needle aponeurotomy, or needling. In this procedure, a doctor uses a needle to divide the diseased tissue without needing to make any incisions.
If the connective tissue nodules or cords are painful, a doctor may prescribe a steroid injection to ease the pain.
Can I Get Long Term Disability Benefits for Dupuytren’s Contracture?
Whether you can receive long term disability benefits for Dupuytren’s contracture depends upon the terms of your specific long term insurance policy. The long term disability insurance attorneys of Abell and Capitan Law have experience with many different long term disability insurance companies and their policies. Your first step is to request and obtain a copy of your disability insurance policy and carefully review it as you collect the information you need to apply for benefits.
The next step is to apply for disability benefits. Although you could file for long term disability benefits without the formal representation of an attorney, our disability attorneys at Abell and Capitan Law are happy to answer your questions about the application process or file for benefits on your behalf. You can also find answers to some frequently asked questions here.
One way to increase your chances of qualifying your Dupuytren’s contracture as a long term disability is to see whether you can identify other disabilities to combine it with. Many people with Dupuytren’s contracture also often have other contracture disorders, particularly in the feet. Many long term insurance policies will consider the combined effects of any disabilities, such as if you suffer contractures in more than one body part.
Another technique to help you obtain disability benefits for Dupuytren’s contracture is to be sure to include the non-exertional aspects of your disability – the problems that affect your ability to perform non-strength-related activities, such as manipulative hand or finger movement or obtaining certain body positions like reaching, climbing, or crouching. Dupuytren’s contracture often causes an inability to manipulate things with the hands or perform hand-related tasks manually.
Most long term disability companies also require you to apply for Social Security disability insurance (“SSDI”) benefits along with your long term disability application. Typically, a long term disability policy will have an offset provision, which reduces the long term disability benefits by any amount received from SSDI.
Contact a Dupuytren’s Contracture Disability Attorney for Help
Filing a successful long term disability claim for Dupuytren’s contracture can be complicated and challenging. Even if the impairment has undoubtedly affected your ability to work, the SSA may not see it that way. We have experience handling your type of case. Contact the long term disability attorneys at Abell and Capitan Law today. You can call us at (267) 419-7888 or contact us online. We look forward to helping you get the benefits you deserve.