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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Is Degenerative Disc Disease Work Related, part 2

Is degenerative disc disease work related, even if it results in low back surgery and permanent work restrictions?  This second part blog continues the discussion of work-related degenerative disc disease.  Yes, if a traumatic work accident caused the degeneration to accelerate beyond normal progression or if the degeneration itself was contributed to by your job duties over time.   Your workers' compensation attorney must have a sincere understanding of the medicine involving low back degenerative disc disease which can lead to low back disability, permanent work restrictions, and loss of earning capacity.

The nucleus may push through the torn annulus and into the spinal canal. This is called a herniated or ruptured disc. The disc material that squeezes out can press against the spinal nerves. The disc also emits enzymes and chemicals that produce inflammation. The combination of pressure on the nerves and inflammation caused by the chemicals released from the disc cause pain.

As the degeneration continues, bone spurs develop around the facet joints and around the disc. No one knows exactly why these bone spurs develop. Most doctors think that bone spurs are the body's attempt to stop the extra motion between the spinal segment. These bone spurs can cause problems by pressing on the nerves of the spine where they pass through the neural foramina. This pressure around the irritated nerve roots can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the low back, buttocks, and lower limbs and feet.

A collapsed spinal segment eventually becomes stiff and immobile. Thickened ligaments and facet joints, scarred and dried disc tissue, and protruding bone spurs prevent normal movement.  This stage of degeneration may actually lead to pain relief for some people.  However, this aging process may take years and years.  People who do not want to endure the pain and disability and immobility waiting for nature to take its course, seek medical answers and treatment.

Treatment for workers comp herniated discs often includes rest, physical therapy, injections and if necessary, back surgery.  Surgery may be a laminectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy or back fusion.  The worker's compensation insurance company will almost always deny paying for a surgery where the original diagnosis includes degenerative disc disease.  The reason is the insurance adjuster can always find an IME or independent medical examiner who will say that the injured worker's work accident or job duties did not contribute to his or her degenerative disc disease and the ultimate disc bulge or herniation.  Unfortunately, many injured workers simply accept the IME denial.

Better to call McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a free consultation to answer is degenerative disc disease work related.

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