Career Prospects for People with Neuropathy

Posted by bhop @bhop, Jan 16, 2022

I’m not sure how to ask this so thank you for your patience.

Background: I was diagnosed with bilateral peripheral neuropathy in my hands in 2016 at the age of 22. It was at the start of my post-college career as an engineer, primarily trained in computer-based design work. The symptoms prevented me from continuing that job. I held out for as long as I could before I couldn’t meet the job requirements.

My neurologist recommended not pursuing any computer-based jobs as the pain and mental stress of the symptoms, which drove me from the first one, would be the same. I tried other lines of non-computer work, such as welding and metal fabricating, but the fatigue and cramping of my symptoms made that unworkable. Not only is working at a computer untennable, but so is gripping, pinching, grabbing etc. For the past 4-1/2 years, I’ve been living off family essentially just being useful enough to ‘earn my keep’. I have not been able to find a path forward to salvage my career or be financial independent.

My question: how can I find a list of careers/jobs suitable for my symptoms? I can’t lie to employers about my condition because at some point my tolerance for the pain will give out like at my first job. But if I tell them, then I either can’t fulfill the requirements (e.g. computer based design work 8 hours+ a day) or I won’t be hired. Essentially, what kind of jobs/careers are available to someone who can’t use their hands normally? Are there services who can look at my background and symptoms and come up with options?

I hope I’ve laid this out clearly. Thank you for any help you can provide.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Neuropathy Support Group.

Hello @bhop, Welcome to Connect. You did great job formulating your problem and question. I have small fiber PN which is mostly in my feet with numbness but I do have some numbness in the finger tips which sometimes put a crimp in my computer dealings. I'm a really old computer nerd retired from 2 different careers. My feeling is if computers are one of your skills and interest, you may be able to find something related to the field. I did find an older study from 2004 which I think does a good job of explaining why it's a problem for you and others with similar symptoms.

Upper limb neuropathy in computer operators? A clinical case study of 21 patients: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC516037/

I also found some ideas that might help you come up with some options — 19 Best Jobs without Using Hands (Carpal Tunnel Friendly): https://www.trendsandtactics.com/jobs-without-using-hands
I love the wrapping up section of this article — "Not having use of your hands can’t stop you from being able to make a job around what you’re passionate about. If you’re skilled or knowledgeable, you can create a career in any business sector."

Has your neurologist suggested or started any treatments to provide some relief for your symptoms?

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@johnbishop

Hello @bhop, Welcome to Connect. You did great job formulating your problem and question. I have small fiber PN which is mostly in my feet with numbness but I do have some numbness in the finger tips which sometimes put a crimp in my computer dealings. I'm a really old computer nerd retired from 2 different careers. My feeling is if computers are one of your skills and interest, you may be able to find something related to the field. I did find an older study from 2004 which I think does a good job of explaining why it's a problem for you and others with similar symptoms.

Upper limb neuropathy in computer operators? A clinical case study of 21 patients: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC516037/

I also found some ideas that might help you come up with some options — 19 Best Jobs without Using Hands (Carpal Tunnel Friendly): https://www.trendsandtactics.com/jobs-without-using-hands
I love the wrapping up section of this article — "Not having use of your hands can’t stop you from being able to make a job around what you’re passionate about. If you’re skilled or knowledgeable, you can create a career in any business sector."

Has your neurologist suggested or started any treatments to provide some relief for your symptoms?

Jump to this post

Thank you for the reply and for the article. The only treatment that worked were combinations of Gabapentin, Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline. The first regimen gave relief for 3 months before my body got used to it. The next combination only 1 month. I started the previous one after that and no relief. The only other temporary relief is Bio Freeze believe it or not, sort of.

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@bhop

Thank you for the reply and for the article. The only treatment that worked were combinations of Gabapentin, Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline. The first regimen gave relief for 3 months before my body got used to it. The next combination only 1 month. I started the previous one after that and no relief. The only other temporary relief is Bio Freeze believe it or not, sort of.

Jump to this post

@bhop Hello there, I am also young and suffering very similar conditions/symptoms. For six years now, I've had no grip in my hands nor any feeling for 2 years now. I have high amounts of pain and nausea on a daily basis in my body that's kept at bay with high doses of Gaba as needed. I work a very physical job at an emergency veterinary hospital, on my feet all day and utilizing hands for everything, even computer work sometimes. I've had to get creative over the years, but even moreso adjust my mindset and be willing to ask for help with others as I felt led to do so. And I like what you said about being honest, I believe that to be the best policy and will take you far in life; it also sensitizes others to your condition(s) and your needs, and allows for them to extend an extra measure of grace to you. 🙂 For me, I must keep my arms compressed at all times and 'just keep moving' – mentally, physically, in all aspects etc. BUT I also am learning when to slow down, take breaks, ask for help and never give up! Experiment with things to find out what works/doesn't for you, and talk to others like you're doing here! May you find relief, peace and a sense of joy as you journey thru each day. Sending good thoughts and vibes your way!

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@johnbishop

Hello @bhop, Welcome to Connect. You did great job formulating your problem and question. I have small fiber PN which is mostly in my feet with numbness but I do have some numbness in the finger tips which sometimes put a crimp in my computer dealings. I'm a really old computer nerd retired from 2 different careers. My feeling is if computers are one of your skills and interest, you may be able to find something related to the field. I did find an older study from 2004 which I think does a good job of explaining why it's a problem for you and others with similar symptoms.

Upper limb neuropathy in computer operators? A clinical case study of 21 patients: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC516037/

I also found some ideas that might help you come up with some options — 19 Best Jobs without Using Hands (Carpal Tunnel Friendly): https://www.trendsandtactics.com/jobs-without-using-hands
I love the wrapping up section of this article — "Not having use of your hands can’t stop you from being able to make a job around what you’re passionate about. If you’re skilled or knowledgeable, you can create a career in any business sector."

Has your neurologist suggested or started any treatments to provide some relief for your symptoms?

Jump to this post

I looked through the jobs article. A bit helpful. Any ideas as to organizations that can look at me and help? Like, a head hunter sort of thing?

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Each state has a Dept of Vocational Rehabilitation which may be a resource to you. I admire your persistence and you will prevail!

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@mariannev

Each state has a Dept of Vocational Rehabilitation which may be a resource to you. I admire your persistence and you will prevail!

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This is an excellent suggestion. If accepted as a client, they do a thorough assessment, provide recommendations, and can help with aids/equipment that might be needed to successfully perform the job area you select. Just brain-storming here- are there voice-driven adaptions to the computers you would need to use for a job in your current field?

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@mariannev

Each state has a Dept of Vocational Rehabilitation which may be a resource to you. I admire your persistence and you will prevail!

Jump to this post

Thank you! I will look into this!

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@centre

This is an excellent suggestion. If accepted as a client, they do a thorough assessment, provide recommendations, and can help with aids/equipment that might be needed to successfully perform the job area you select. Just brain-storming here- are there voice-driven adaptions to the computers you would need to use for a job in your current field?

Jump to this post

My training is in computer-based drafting and application use (spreadsheet for example). This requires Graphic User Interface tools far more complicated than speech to text and basic navigation.

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Hello @bhop Kudos for joining Connect to advocate for yourself! I'm curious, did you ever apply for disability at the job you were unable to perform requirements at?

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Hi Rachel, New to this group. To answer your question, No. I have Neuropathy in my feet. It’s been about 12 years. Doctors are not much help. Looking for support groups online. Found one in Weston Mass that I need to connect with.

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