Possible Disability Case?


  • Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, Dialysis, Hospice. Has 26 years experience.

I have been a nurse since 1990. Back in 2002 and then again in 2008, I had to have cervical disc surgery for a herniated disc in my neck. I did okay at the time, but as I've gotten older (I'm 51 now), have developed arthritis and a narrowed foraminal opening on the right sight if my cervical vertebrae. Anytime I do any type of nursing work now, from telephone triage (holding the phone on my shoulder while talking) to chronic dialysis, where I currently work, after eight or more hours of work I develop a severe neurological headache and pain/tingling/numbness down my right arm. I don't have this the rest of the time, only when I am working.

I am in no way trying to get a free ride or get something that I am not entitled to, but based on the above, do you think it would be worth my while to contact a disability attorney regarding potential disability? This condition really is disabling. I worked Wed., Thurs., and Fri. this week and all day yesterday and today I have had the predictable right sided headache and aching/numbness down my right arm, in spite of taking Naproxen and Motrin several times (and I do monitor my 24 hour total dosage).

I just don't know what to do. We need my income but it causes me such pain to work at at any type of nursing job, basically anything where I use my right arm/shoulder and flex and extend my neck. My neurosurgeon has said that he does not recommend another disc surgery.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


1 Article; 615 Posts

Specializes in Healthcare risk management and liability.

I would do three things in this particular order:

1. Notify your workplace and see what they can do to reasonably accommodate your disability. For example, would a telephone headset with the earbuds and the boom microphone help the telephone triage tasks?

2. Look into filing a claim with your state worker's compensation system.

3. Talk to an experienced local disability/workers's compensation attorney about both a worker's compensation claim and long term disability under state and Federal systems.

Finally, has your neurosurgeon or your primary care providers or specialists explored other forms of conservative treatment, such as physical therapy or the like? Would a referral to a pain clinic be in order? My personal (as opposed to professional) opinion is that if you can avoid having to go down the chronic opiate road, that is a good thing.


948 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, Dialysis, Hospice. Has 26 years experience.

I have had physical therapy for my neck in the past when it flared up, but I also had to be off work because as soon as I went back it started right back in again.

I no longer do the telephone triage work, but I just started in the dialysis clinic a couple of weeks ago and thought maybe it would be okay and then it went right back to how it was, so I don't feel like it is appropriate to file a worker's comp claim already, I would feel bad but maybe I'm wrong about this.

I don't know if shorter shifts, like maybe four hours, would be better, but I have yet to find a nursing job that offers this option.

I would be willing to try a pain clinic, but I definitely do NOT want any kind of opioids, they make me really nauseous and I don't like being remotely under the influence of anything. I don't even drink alcohol for this reason.

I think I will call an attorney and get an opinion, just to see what he/she says.

Thanks so much for your reply!


3 Posts

Well as far as filing for ssd. You are not going to get the money you use to. I take it your right handed but I highly doubt you'll succeed in getting ssd. They will say that there is to many jobs you can do it doesn't matter if your a nurse or not it's Any job peroid.... they can put you flipping burgers or taking orders at mcds became there are jobs you can do. Iam also a nurse who is on ssd but I had 7 surgeries in 11 months iam fused cervical thoracic and lumbar. From a work injury. Can't go into details but my back was broken at T7 T8 thank the Lord I was supposed to be paralyzed due to that injury. I did get ssd only because my injuries were so severe. I wish you luck. But talk to a pain dr and see what your options are like steroid injection gabapentin meds also they can burn the nerves. So really follow up with a pain dr.... I had my left and right nerves burned and I tell you what the nerve pain in my legs gone it's great your talking since 2012 serve pain uncontrolled high narcotics you name it I took it. Now the only thing I have is weak legs which is my hurtle to jump. I still have c2 c3 needs surgery but I'll wait as long as I can. But my goal is to go back to work by the end of the year. But good luck on what Avenue you try but seriously try a pain dr and what I highly recommend to try. Your talking to someone who had a total of 6 spine surgeries. Good luck. Julie


558 Posts

Specializes in ED.

It will be hard without the documentation from the very start that it is work related. If there is any question it's a work injury it should be workmans comp from the very start. You also should request accommodations. You need to start the documentation ASAP.