Although degenerative disc disease can cause serious issues in the workplace, many disability insurance companies still look for reasons to delay or deny legitimate disability claims. Having proper documentation of degenerative disc disease as well as appropriate care and treatment can help make sure that your disability benefits are approved in a quick and timely manner.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD), also known as degenerative disc disorder, is not really a disease, but rather a condition to describe changes in the spinal discs that make up your vertebrae. DDD can be found anywhere along your spinal cord, but is most commonly found in the lumbar (lower back) region or the cervical (neck) region of your spinal cord. Because DDD can be found anywhere along the back and may describe a number of changes to your spinal cord, the symptoms of DDD can vary greatly. That being said, there are some common symptoms that describe a large number of DDD cases, including:
- Chronic back pain: the pain in wherever the DDD is found on your back can range from weak to severe, and the pain can spread to your arms and legs depending on any impact that DDD may have on your nerves
- Weakness: depending on where the DDD is found on your spinal cord, the condition may cause weakness in other parts of your body and may be worsened when you bend over or move a certain way
- Numbness or tingling: in some of the more severe cases of DDD, the condition can cause some nerve damage which leads to numbness or tingling in the extremities of your body
As noted above, the symptoms of DDD can vary greatly depending on the specific case and patient. If you have chronic back pain or any of the other common symptoms of DDD, you should seek medical attention to check for the presence of DDD.
Most commonly, DDD is caused by normal wear-and-tear and aging throughout your back. As you age, your spinal discs which are filled of water and a jelly-like substance to provide cushion lose some of that water, making it harder to provide the necessary cushion that your discs need. DDD can also be caused by some sort of traumatic incident that affects your vertebrae.
DDD can be diagnosed with either a CT scan which creates a cross-sectional image of your spinal cord to determine whether or not your disc(s) are damaged. Another test to determine if DDD is present is an MRI. Doctors are looking for some sort of tear or crack in the outer layer of your disc or some other type of damage to one of your discs in your back.
The most common and main treatment for DDD is exercise and physical therapy. Because the most common cause is normal aging and wear-and-tear, you cannot reverse DDD. That being said, it is certainly possible to help ease the pain and other symptoms that are associated with DDD. If physical therapy does not work or does not completely ease the pain with DDD, pain medications can be prescribed for patients to help ease the symptoms. In the most extreme cases of DDD, surgery can be performed to stop the advancement of degeneration. If DDD is caused by a severe accident, surgery may be necessary to protect the spinal cord that your spinal discs protect.
If you have degenerative disc disease and you are considering filing a claim for disability benefits, or have already been denied disability benefits by your insurance company, our firm can help. Sign up below for a free consultation or call our offices toll-free at 1-855-828-4100.