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Herniated Disc and How It Impacts Your Ability to Work

July 9, 2017

A herniated disc occurs when there is a rupture of the central, softer portion of the discs between your vertebrae. This rupture can irritate nearby nerves, resulting in pain, weakness, either in the back or radiating to the arms or legs. Disc herniations commonly occur in the lumbar spine (lower back) area.

Symptoms of a herniated disc typically include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. If your herniated disc is in your lower back, you may notice symptoms in your buttocks, thighs, and legs. If you herniate a disc in your cervical spine (neck), you may notice symptoms in your shoulders and arms.

You may also have a herniated disc and not even realize it. Sometimes, a herniated disc shows up on diagnostic imaging tests of a person who is not experiencing any symptoms.

A traumatic event or injury can caused a herniated disc, but often it is the result of cumulative wear and tear. Aging, repetitive movements, using improper lifting techniques, and poor posture can all contribute to a disc herniation. People with physically demanding jobs that require a lot of bending or lifting have a greater risk of herniating a disc.

Doctors use a combination of movement assessments, a patient’s report of their symptoms, imaging tests, and nerve tests to diagnose a herniated disc. An MRI can confirm the location of a disc herniation and detect any impact on nearby nerves.

Similar to many other back problems, a herniated disc is usually treated conservatively before more aggressive treatments are attempted. Pain management, physical therapy to improve strength and mobility, and removing irritating activities are used as the first line of treatment. If symptoms worsen or do not subside after several months of conservative treatment, surgery to remove a portion of the herniated disc may be prescribed. A spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement may also be necessary in some cases.

A long-term disability claim for a herniated disc will require the proper evidence in order to be approved. Insurance companies frequently deny claims for back pain due to a lack of objective evidence. Your doctor should note all of your movement limitations or activities that cause pain. You may also need to note the presence of fatigue, or side effects for pain medications that interfere with your ability to work.

If your claim was denied, talk to a long-term disability attorney about the appeals process. You may still have a chance to receive long-term disability benefits by appealing internally to the insurance company, or taking your case to court.

Contact the experienced ERISA lawyers at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick to discuss whether you should appeal a denial of your claim for long-term disability benefits.  Visit our website to learn more about disability claim denials and to download our free ERISA law guide.