Workers Compensation spinal stenosis generally refers to an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal due to multiple factors, but especially damaged discs, stretched ligaments or tendons, or degenerated vertebrae. Workers compensation insurance company IME doctors deny claims by saying spinal stenosis is due to old age and has nothing to do with what a person does for a living. Well, some people do have a predisposition to spinal stenosis and we all get it to a degree as we age. But it is well documented in the medical literature that excessive wear and tear, such as from heavy physical labor job duties over time, will contribute to spinal stenosis.
Degeneration is the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Wear and tear on the spine from aging and from repeated stresses and strains can cause many problems in the lumbar spine. The intervertebral disc can begin to collapse, and the space between each vertebrae shrinks. Bone spurs may form that stick into the spinal canal and reduce the space available to the spinal nerves. The ligaments that hold the vertebrae together may thicken and also push into the spinal canal; or they may lose their tension causing spinal instability. Spinal instability, abnormal movement of the vertebrae, can cause spinal stenosis. All of these conditions cause the spinal canal to narrow and cause disability.
McCormick Law Office attorneys have successfully represented injured workers diagnosed with spinal stenosis. For example, if a man works as a diesel mechanic for 30 years and his medical records show progressively worse back pain, it's a completely reasonable conclusion that his job duties over time contributed to his spinal stenosis. In order to convince the worker's compensation judge or the insurance company, we must obtain a doctor's opinion that the worker's job duties are at least a material contributory factor in causing his spinal stenosis. This is not easy. To get the best results attorneys at McCormick Law Office obtain very specific job duties from the worker, detailing his or her physical demands, with particular emphasis on the type of movements or positions, weights involved, frequency of movements and the duration or length of time the job duties are performed. Then we ask the doctor if the job duties contributed to the spinal stenosis disability. If so, we ask the doctor to assign any permanent physical restrictions or limitations. Finally, we have vocational experts who review the doctor's restrictions and in consideration of the injured worker's prior employment history and schooling, gives an opinion of what jobs the injured worker can now do as a result of the work-related spinal stenosis.