Can I get Social Security Disability if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

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As I was driving back from Novato after seeing my doctor I was wondering if I would qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.  Today my doctor diagnosed me as having symptoms consistent with carpal tunnel syndrome.   Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that causes numbness and pain in y9ur wrists.  You can read more about it on the Mayo Clinic website.  I’m now wearing wrist splints as I type this.  I’m a lawyer; I have to type.   What can I do if I cannot type?  Well, I think my question is hypothetical as  I believe I have caught my symptoms early enough and am committed to doing whatever exercises I can to minimize my symptoms.

Still I wonder, would it be possible to be approved by having carpal tunnel syndrome?  The answer is probably no, if that were the only disability.  Carpal tunnel is not an impairment that is found in what we call the listings such that it would automatically qualify me for disability.  Given my age and education, there is probably other work in the national economy that I could do.    It could be quite possible though for someone else to win disability on this basis with a different vocational profile.  For instance, someone with a repetitive job and whose age or education would render him or her unable to be trained for any other  employment.

I have been reading a lot about carpal tunnel, so much so that my research has made my symptoms worse.  Anyone out there have any good tips as to how to minimize symptoms?  If so, let me know and I will post them here.


  1. Geri,

    So sorry to hear about this. Please go easy on the typing!

    I have had clients disabled only by carpal tunnel syndrome, but they weren’t experts in Social Security disability law or Immigration law, so they had quite a different vocational profile!

    Take good ergonomic care, Gordon

  2. You’ve probably read this by now, but on the off chance that you haven’t, this is from the mayo clinic site’s alternative therapy section on CTS:

    “Supplements of vitamin B-6 may be helpful for relieving the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    And from a different source:

    “Many physicians and nutritionists consider vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to be the gold standard of natural supplements for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome. An estimated 40 to 90 percent of carpal tunnel syndrome patients may experience significant improvement through the use of vitamin B6 if it is taken during the beginning stages of this condition. Taking 25 milligrams of vitamn B6 (pyridoxine) three to four times daily has been shown to reduce the swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome”. However, note that taking more than 100 milligrams of B6 is not recommended without doctor supervision. Too much pyroxidine causes neurological problems such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet and decreased motor skills.”

    I’ve found myself edging toward cts-like symptoms (including strange shooting pains starting from the wrist and traveling into the forearm) at varying points. The only thing that seemed to be helpful in those instances was making the keyboard off-limits for a time and, when I was working, making my keyboarding time sporadic
    and duration-limited.

    Good luck on it.

  3. I had carpal tunnel syndrome a couple of years ago, and ended up typing with the eraser end of a pencil. My thumb hurt so bad I couldn’t even touch the spacebar. It is caused by a nerve getting pinched in the wrist by the bones surrounding it. I went to a chiropractor who massaged/squeezed the wrist a certain way to take the pressure off the nerve. The pain stopped, but then it would start back up, and I discovered the repetitive motion that was causing the problem, actually 2 of them. Slowly turning microfilm rolls on a machine while researching old records, and rolling the wheel on my mouse. My chiropractor showed me how to “fix” my wrist when the nerve gets “caught”. It’s fairly easy once you figure it out, just a certain way of squeezing. Also, I bought a mouse with a big ball on it which creates different dynamics with how my wrist moves. Problem solved, for now at least. If the bones get deformed from arthritis and close the nerve opening, surgery may be necessary.

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