Many people suffer back pain but at what point is the back pain severe enough to qualify for Disability Benefits?
Pain in your spine can be the symptom of various conditions. My discussion, however, will focus on a specific disorder of the spine, namely Herniated Nucleus Pulposus or commonly referred as herniated disc, slipped disc, or ruptured disc. Disorders of the spine generally produce neck and/or back pain which then affects your mobility, your activities of daily living, and your quality of life. Specifically, a herniated disc is a common disorder of the spine that can occur in any part of the spine. The pain it produces varies greatly based on the size of the herniated disc and in the position.
When someone suffers from a herniated disc or other type of spine disorder, Social Security is more concerned with the damage to the spinal cord itself—neurological impairment. What’s really important about herniated discs is that it can press on the nerve root causing pain that can limit your ability to function.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons:
Lumbar spine (lower back): Sciatica frequently results from a herniated disc in the lower back. Pressure on one or several nerves that contribute to the sciatic nerve can cause pain, burning, tingling, and numbness that radiates from the buttock into the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually one side (left or right) is affected. This pain often is described as sharp and electric shock-like. It may be more severe with standing, walking or sitting. Along with leg pain, you may experience low back pain.
Cervical spine (neck): Symptoms may include dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades, pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers, or numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm. The pain may increase with certain positions or movements of the neck.
If you suffer from neck or back pain, chances are you also have muscle spasms, stiffness, and loss of mobility to your spine as a result of a herniated disc or other spine problems. It is imperative that you address with your doctor (preferably a specialist) the pain level that you experience, as well as the frequency, intensity and precipitating factors. Make sure to provide as much detail as you possible and whether the pain is exacerbated by sitting, standing, walking, bending, stooping, lifting–even coughing, sneezing, etc. Documenting these symptoms during every visit with your doctor is important because this will help the State Agency or the Judge ascertain the severity of your functional limitations. Particular attention is given to the physical examinations conducted while in the examining room. The exams reveal whether abnormal pressure exist on the nerve root, whether you have significant muscle weakness, whether there’s changes in sensation and reflexes, etc. Some people get better with surgery while others don’t. For others, surgery is not even an option. If you have a spine disorder that has affected your quality of life and your ability to return to work, we will be happy to review your claim.