Long Term Disability for Disorders of the Spine

Individuals may qualify for Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits because of back problems. The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bone discs called vertebrae. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord and allow each of us to stand and bend. A number of diseases or injuries can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue. Such problems include

  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Tumors
  • Conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis and scoliosis
  • Changes in the bone structure that come with age, such as spinal stenosis and herniated disks

A major cause of disability is the pain that comes with spinal diseases and injuries. The pain typically occurs when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Spine injuries and diseases can also limit movement. Treatments differ by disease, but may include medicine, injections, physical therapy, a TENS unit, back braces and surgery.

Diagnosis/Symptoms

Spine injuries and diseases are typically diagnosed with one or more of the following tests:

  • Computed Tomography (CT, or “Cat Scan”)
  • Discography
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and
  • X-Ray

Treatments and Therapies

Treatment for spine disorders may include one or more of the following:

  • Artificial Disc Replacement
  • Back Surgery
  • Epidural Injections for Spinal Pain
  • Lumbar (Open) Microscopic Discectomy
  • Vertebroplasty for Spine Fracture Pain
  • A Halo
  • Posture Exercises
  • Spine Conditioning Program

Specific Spinal Conditions

Specific disorders of the spine include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH)
  • Fractures of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine
  • Kyphosis
  • Spinal Cord Tumor
  • Spinal Infections
  • Spondylolysis and Spondylolysthesis
  • Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorder and
  • Arachnoiditis

Arachnoiditis is an extremely painful condition that is caused by inflammation of the arachnoid, a membrane that cushions the spinal cord. Arachnoiditis can cause a burning/stinging pain in the back and may radiate to the legs and arms, causing numbness and tingling in the hands or feet. It can also affect one’s ability to sit for long periods and keep in control of the bladder and bowel.

To get disability benefits based on a diagnosis of a spinal disorder, you should have medical evidence of your spine disease or injury. Such medical evidence should demonstrate findings that are reasonably expected to produce pain, such as an MRI showing a herniated disc or EMG findings showing inflammation of the spinal cord and/or roots. These are the types of conditions are reasonably expected to cause severe burning pain in the spine or other painful sensations, and the need to change position or posture at least once every two hours (or even more frequently). Acceptable medical evidence may include tissue biopsy reports, notes of observations during an operation, x-rays, CT scans, X-Rays and/or MRIs.

If you are unable to work due to a spine disease or injury and your LTD insurance company has denied or terminated your claim, call 850-308-7833 to discuss your appeal rights with an experienced long term disability attorney.