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Is degenerative disc disease considered a disability?

Degenerative disc disease is a relatively common age-related spine condition in which the soft, cushioning discs that separate the vertebrae break down over time. Depending on its specific location, a damaged disc can produce a number of symptoms. For instance, in addition to neck or back pain, some people experience neurological symptoms, such as numbness, tingling sensations, muscle weakness, loss of balance and headaches.

Degenerative disc disease symptoms can sometimes be limiting. In fact, the associated pain may be severe enough to affect your ability to perform your job-related duties. Regardless of whether those tasks are physical or sedentary, if degenerative disc disease prevents you from working, it may be considered a disability.

Degenerative disc disease and physical capacity

The most common occupational limitation experienced by people with degenerative disc disease is neck or back pain that occurs or worsens when they perform physical tasks. For instance, if your job requires you to lift, carry, push or pull heavy objects, then you may be unable to continue to work.

Another frequent problem is a loss of spinal flexibility. The area of degeneration in your spine can become inflexible, which may affect your ability to bend, turn, twist or stoop. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time can also become difficult or impossible. Most jobs require some or all of these activities.

Degenerative disc disease and mental capacity

While the symptoms of degenerative disc disease are physical in nature, constant pain can affect your ability to think clearly and even lead to depression. It can also disrupt your sleep, and sleep deprivation can cause cognitive issues. Additionally, certain medications that may be prescribed to reduce your pain and other symptoms can also have side effects that impact your mental capacity.

All of these mental issues can potentially result in limitations that prevent you from working effectively at your regular job, especially if your responsibilities require you to make decisions, recall details or identify discrepancies or errors.

Degenerative disc disease doesn’t have to become a permanent disability. If you are interested in exploring your surgical treatment options, contact USA Spine Care. Our team can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

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