Thursday, September 06, 2007

Herniated Disc, Social Security Disability SSI - Applying for Disability

It’s actually fairly common to see a mention of a herniated disc on an application for social security disability or an application for SSI. Allegations such as herniated disc, lower back pain, and degenerative disc disease tend to show up quite frequently, in fact.

Of course, this is not surprising for at least a couple of reasons. One is the fact that these are degenerative conditions that tend to develop over time as people age and sometimes after the occurrence of an injury. Second, back pain can be particularly debilitating. As someone who has had recurrent problems with cervical and lumbar back pain, I happen to know exactly how true this is.

Unfortunately, as a former disability examiner, I also know how true it is that back cases do not receive the proper consideration that they should by SSA. Why is this? Typically, there are a number of factors that influence the outcome of disability cases involving back pain.

A. Pain is difficult to evaluate and difficult to take into consideration when rendering a disability determination. We see this, really, on nearly case that involves allegations of pain, no matter what the actual impairment is. Why is pain so difficult to evaluate? To some extent, this is true because the majority of disability examiners are younger individuals who have never experienced significant back pain. This is supposition on my part, of course. However, I know that, prior to developing some musculoskeletal problems myself, even I did not appreciate how significant and immobilizing ongoing back pain could be----of course, until it happened to me.

B. Too often, doctors do not document in their medical records (social security disability and SSI cases are decided wholly on medical evidence) the nature and extent of a patient's pain, nor the functional restrictions and limitations that come into play as a result of ongoing pain.

In the final analysis, it can truthfully be said that the social security administration can be hard on "back disability cases". However, as I've said before, that does not mean that a disability case involving back pain cannot be won. With the proper documentation and often with the assistance of a good representative (a disability attorney or non-attorney rep), a solid case for approval can be presented.

For additional information on the disability process, including tips and advice to consider, and various mistakes to avoid when filing or appealing a disability claim, you may wish to follow the link at the top of the page that leads to Disability or, if you need representation, you may wish to scroll to the bottom of this post and complete a free case evaluation form.

What follows is information on herniated discs:

Herniated disc (also known as ruptured disc, prolapsed disc, or herniated nucleus pulposos) is a tear in the outer fibrous ring that allows the soft gel-like center of the intervertebral disc to bulge out.

Generally, individuals between the ages of thirty and fifty have more herniated disc problems due to repetitive motions such as bending, lifting, and twisting. After the age of fifty, the gel-like center of the disc begins to dry up and herniation is less likely. In fact, most individuals with low back pain over the age of fifty suffer from spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.

The region of the spine most affected by disc herniation is the lumbar spine and herniations in this region account for about ninety percent of all herniated discs. Most herniated discs are the result of a bulging disc that becomes progressively worse. Symptoms may include pain in the affected disc area, radiating pain to areas connected to the nerve root that has been inflamed by the herniation, with tingling, numbness, paralysis, weakness, incontinence, etc.

Studies have indicated that some herniated discs heal themselves within three months with conservative treatment methods that might include bed rest, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulations, massage, oral and intravenous steroids, and various pain and anti-inflammatory medications. If conservative methods fail, there are surgical procedures options including spinal fusion, laminectomy, and discectomy that may be useful in treating herniated discs.

Recently artificial disc replacement has been allowed in the United States, although the artificial disc replacement surgery has been performed in Europe for years.

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