The Doctor’s Corner: 5 Recent Medical Study Developments

There have been several studies released in the past few months that offer promises for better understanding and treatment of several different chronic conditions. Today’s post is going to review some of these advances and how they may affect those with these chronic conditions and how they may impact disability claims.

  • Study Shows Antibiotics May Relieve Chronic Lower Back Pain:  This new study shows that 4 in 10 chronic back pain cases may be caused by bacteria and that 80% of these cases may be successfully treated with antibiotics. antibioticIn this double-blind Danish study, patents were treated with either a placebo or antibiotic regiment 3 times a day for 100 days and then re-evaluated. The placebo group showed no noticeable improvement while patients who received the antibiotics were better able to function after one year with less lower back pain, less leg pain, and fewer days off work due to the condition. These new treatment avenues could help some people who suffer from chronic back pain regain more independence and return to more normal activities.
  • Los Angeles Doctor Develops New Fibromyalgia Test:  Individuals who suffer from Fibromyalgia know the frustration and extended time it often takes to reach a conclusive diagnosis of their condition. A new test developed by Dr. Bruce Gillis in Santa Monica, California is the first blood test able to recognize two blood markers for Fibromyalgia that can be found in the immune system. The test measured the levels of two specific proteins produced by white blood cells: chemokines and cytokines. Patients who suffer from Fibromyalgia also lack the production of these two specialized proteins. This test may be able to offer more definitive evidence, or their holy grail of objective proof, for the insurance company claim examiners and consulting doctors who are dubious and skeptical about any and every disability claim involving Fibromyalgia.
  • Long-Term Intake Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Greatly Reduce Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis:  This is a Swedish study of 32,000 women over a 10-year period. In the study, people who ate certain types of fatty fish at least once per week developed rheumatoid arthritis at only half the rate of women who at little or no fish. The researchers behind the study say that the Omega-3 fatty acids present in these fish have an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system.  Since rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks joints, the anti-inflammatory effects mitigates the body’s inflammation, reducing the pain and cartilage damage caused by arthritis.
  • Study Shows Genetic Relationships Between 5 Major Psychiatric Disorders:  The largest genome-wide study ever conducted on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has demonstrated that genetic relationships exist among these conditions. The study’s findings show that many of these disorders may be far more connected than manygenome people consider today. The results show that the genetic overlaps are most significant between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They’re moderate between bipolar disorder and depression, schizophrenia and depression, and depression and ADHD. The lowest correlation of any significance was found between schizophrenia and autism. These correlations will help researchers find new protocols to treat behavioral patterns as opposed to specific conditions, allowing for more precise and patient-specific treatment therapies.
  • New treatment offers relief for Colitis and Chrohn’s disease:  Two studies show that the same treatment may provide relief for sufferers of both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These trials took place with nearly 2,000 patients in 34 countries and monitored them for one year of treatment with the intravenous antibody medication, Vedolizumab. This drug works by inhibiting the immune system from releasing cytokines, the same protein coincidentally used as a marker in the new Fibromyalgia test above. The inflammation caused by this protein causes many of the uncomfortable symptoms brought on by these diseases. Not only did the drug work to prevent the symptoms of the conditions but even better more often resulted in remissions. These studies also showed that patients were able to stop using some commonly prescribed drugs and therapies to treat Colitis and Chrohn’s, helping avoid their significant and common side effects such as weight gain, nausea, and headaches. This new treatment gives sufferers the opportunity to regain more of their lives without having to deal with the residual effects of the disease along with the side effects of prescriptions that can prevent claimants from being able to return to work.

As medical research progresses, more sufferers of chronic diseases are able regain their lives and reduce their risks of becoming or remaining permanently disabled. New advances are made every day, and new studies continue to find links that help understand the reasons and factors underlying – and treatments for – many chronic conditions, giving patients and doctors new directions in finding different and more effective treatment protocols for conditions which can be terribly debilitating.

If you are suffering from a chronic condition and need help with your disability insurance claim, please call our firm at (855) 828-4100 or visit our website to sign up for a free consultation.

Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment: How These Issues Affect Your Disability Claim

With summer and the outdoor season upon us, there can be different causes of disability to deal with. One of the more common conditions we see during this time of year, especially in the Northeast, is Lyme disease. Although there is evidence that Lyme may be spread through multiple sources, the primary method of infection is a blacklegged or deer tick bite. Lyme is a complex multisystem inflammatory disease that can affect all of the major organ systems in your body and cause a wide range of symptoms including fever, headaches, rash, pain, vertigo, speech impairments, mood swings, depression, and hallucinations. In addition, these symptoms don’t always develop immediately. It can take days, weeks, or even years before the onset of symptoms due to Lyme disease, making it extremely difficult to pinpoint the causal event of the symptoms.  Continue reading

New Advances in Chronic Pain Treatment

If you are living with chronic pain, you know the stress and suffering that results. Chronic pain research continues and treatments still have a long way to go. However, researchers have made some significant gains in understanding and treating chronic pain in recent years, resulting in a new classes of drugs and treatments to help alleviate pain. Today, I am going to discuss some new therapies to explore how you may be able to reduce your pain and improve your life.   Continue reading

6 Tips To Keep Your Disability Claim Moving

One of the biggest red flags a claimant can inadvertently create in their disability claim is to move.  While there are many legitimate reasons someone can move, claim examiners have been trained to closely scrutinize a case where a claimant moves.  New sets of arguments and investigative avenues are opened for the insurance company to use against you.  As anyone who’s moved can tell you, moving is difficult at best.  And the last thing someone needs, who is already trying to move while dealing with their disability, are new and additional hassles from their disability insurance company, not to mention the added stress of worrying that their benefits will be delayed or stopped.  If you’re currently applying for or receiving disability benefits, there are several issues we think you should understand as well as a few tips on how to keep the disability claim process moving smoothly during this stressful time.   Continue reading

Arthritis: Common Claim Mistakes and How to Get Approved for Benefits

If I were to ask you the number one cause of disability in the United States, what would you say? It may surprise you that the answer is…arthritis.  Arthritis is a very common condition that affects the ability of more than 20 million Americans to work in their chosen careers on a daily basis. It manifests itself in many different forms, but the main type is osteoarthritis followed by rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. In the case of individuals who try and continue their careers, their work abilities can be marred by absenteeism and frequent doctor appointments to deal with the pain and difficulties of movement. It’s estimated that over $60 billion dollars a year in earnings are lost due to this degenerative disease. Disability insurance is a very important consideration in the treatment and recovery of an arthritis patient, so it’s critical to remember several key points when applying for disability benefits from an insurance company. Continue reading

Medicinal Marijuana: How the Debate Affects You and Your Disability Claim

The pros and cons of medical marijuana use are a major area of contention in the alternative medicine communities and are beginning to appear on the radar of mainstream politics as well.  In fact, the very mention of the topic seems to cause controversy and raise strong feelings.  Whatever your beliefs, the use of medical marijuana is a topic that deserves examination.

As new studies have shown, medical marijuana may have a place and time in the treatment of many different ailments.  This is not an opinion shared by all medical experts.  There are increasing debates raging in the medical community about the usefulness and effectiveness of many different iterations of  the substance, from smoking the plant to eating marijuana reductions and taking synthetically produced THC medications as Marinol.  We have had several clients who have gotten good results and advocated the use of medical marijuana as well as clients who have questions about how the medication may affect their diseases and the corresponding effect on their disability claims.  Today I’m going to look at several facets of the argument and let you and your doctor decide on the proper course of treatment for your condition. Continue reading

Getting Back to Work After a Disability

This month, we celebrate the 22nd birthday of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, so I’d like to talk about some of the many resources and support groups our clients have used when going back to work after a period of disability.  Most people have a negative impression of disability insurance, both public and private, creating a stigma which mislabels many disabled individuals as lazy or slackers.  Based on our clients, these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.  Most of the claimants we work with would jump at the chance to return to productive, rewarding work and forget all about their disability claim along with the burdens they have to bear.  The Social Security Administration, along with several private organizations, have created multiple programs to help individuals transition from disability to recover their ability to be gainfully employed. Continue reading

Does the Affordable Care Act Affect Your Disability Insurance?

With last week’s Supreme Court ruling confirming the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally referred to as Obamacare, it’s now time to start looking forward to the parts of PPACA that have not yet taken effect and analyze the repercussions.  While it may not directly affect the disability insurance market, the PPACA will affect every individual currently receiving benefits.  Health insurance is an important part of physical and financial well-being, and the PPACA dramatically changes how we view health insurance in this country.  In the opinion of our firm, the PPACA helps most individuals, especially those people who are experiencing substantial medical problems in their lives.  Today I am going to break down the PPACA into its 10 Titles and touch on how each title may affect disabled individuals and specifically how they relate to disability insurance claims.  Continue reading

Be Prepared When Filing or Appealing a Claim Subject to ERISA

ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, was enacted in 1974 with the  purpose of protecting employee benefit plans, but insurance companies have become adept in using ERISA rules and regs to their advantage.  Almost all Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD) plans are subject to ERISA, as are some individual plans.  ERISA is complicated and has a number of requirements regarding disability claims that both the insured and the insurance company must follow.

Once a disability claim subject to ERISA is filed, evaluated, and denied by an insurance company, the insured either accepts the denial or files an internal appeal with the insurance company.  Each step of this process has deadlines that must be carefully followed, or you can lose all future benefits along with your right to appeal or even litigate.  It is important to keep detailed records and stay on top of your claim.

Our office recently received a referral from an insurance agent whose client’s employee had filed a disability claim under their LTD policy.  She had rheumatoid arthritis and could no longer do her job.  The employee’s disability claim had been denied, and they were about to appeal when the agent thought to contact our firm.  I am going to lay out some of the mistakes that were made or about to be made and how we were able to fix them, hopefully helping you avoid the same pitfalls.  Inadvertent mistakes can happen and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in past and future benefits. Continue reading