Understanding Spinal Stenosis and What it Does to Your Health
Many people suffer from chronic back pain of varying degrees of severity. In spinal stenosis, the contents of the spinal canal, mainly the spinal nerves within the sac, are compressed by a variety of pathologies, such as bony overgrowth, disc rupture or long standing degeneration. When this compression becomes severe enough, it can disturb the function of the nerves, thus causing chronic pain and functional limitations. The lumbar spine is the most common site for stenosis, and can affect lower extremity function, cause chronic severe pain, and can alter lifestyles.
The Disabling Nature of Spinal Stenosis
Long-term pressure on spinal nerves can cause them to function inadequately, and ultimately, not at all. This process in turn affects the organs or muscles that these nerves control. The most common syndrome produced by this nerve compression is sciatica, or pain and dysfunction of the legs due to compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is created by the confluence of nerve roots that exit the lower lumbar spine and travel through the buttocks into the legs. Bowel and bladder function can also become impaired from pressure on these nerves as well.
Surgery is Not Always a Cure
With a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, especially of the severe form, comes the need to consider various treatment options. Physical therapy, medication and activity modification can be beneficial treatments for mild spinal stenosis. However, in the more severe forms of the condition, where there is distinct compression on spinal nerves from large bone spurs or bulging disc material, surgery may be an unavoidable necessity to relieve nerves of potentially damaging pressure. That being said, one must be aware of the fact that surgery is a means to improve the overall situation, and is not necessarily meant as a complete cure in all cases. There are inherent risks of this type of surgery, in addition to the obvious intra-operative risks of bleeding, nerve injury and worsening of the situation.
It May Become Necessary to Get a Disability Rating
Situations occur that make it impossible to continue working or even performing daily tasks. The inability to earn income can be devastating. There are various avenues to pursue to secure an official disability rating, which would allow and qualify a person to receive disability income. State and federal institutions exist to help process disability requests. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation handles any disability requests due to work-related injury.
Be Aware of Things that Can impact Your Disability Rating
Once a disability has been approved and a rating, which is a determination of the level of disability and from which monetary issues are resolved, assigned, it is critical to be knowledgeable of the types of activities that could negatively impact disability compensation. There may be certain job activities you may be able to perform, provided they are outside the job specs of your specific disability. An example of potential harmful activities would include being observed carrying heavy loads or moving household furniture if you have a significant disability because of back problems and/or surgery. Avoid activities that are in direct conflict with the terms of your disability.