SPINAL STENOSIS & DISABILITY
WHAT IS SPINAL STENOSIS?
Spinal stenosis is a medical condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves that pass through it. This compression can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the back, legs, and arms.
There are two main types of spinal stenosis: lumbar and cervical spinal stenosis. Lumbar spinal stenosis affects the lower back. Cervical spinal stenosis affects the neck.
Spinal stenosis can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, it can be due to changes in the spine from age, degeneration of the spine, thickened ligaments, herniated discs, or bone spurs. Other factors that may cause spinal stenosis include arthritis, tumors, and trauma.
Spinal stenosis is a common condition, especially among older adults. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, spinal stenosis affects 1 in 1000 people in the US, or almost 400,000 to 500,000 individuals. Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 stated that the prevalence of lumbar spinal stenosis among adults aged 60 years and older in the United States was 9.3%.
THE SYMPTOMS OF SPINAL STENOSIS
The symptoms of spinal stenosis depend on the location of the narrowed spinal canal and the compression of the nerves. The following are some common symptoms of spinal stenosis:
The most common symptom of spinal stenosis is pain in the neck, back, legs, or buttocks. The pain may be sharp or dull. You may also feel a burning sensation that runs down your legs or arms. In addition to nerve compression, spinal stenosis can cause inflammation of the nerves. This nerve irritation creates further pain and discomfort. Your pain may be made worse by physical activity or standing for long periods of time. These activities increase pressure on the affected nerves.
Numbness or weakness:
Pressure on the spinal cord or nerves can cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms, legs, or other parts of the body. This can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks and may increase the risk of falls.
Trouble walking or standing:
Spinal stenosis can make it difficult to walk or stand for extended periods of time. Some people may feel a heaviness or weakness in the legs. They may also feel unsteady on their feet.
Loss of bladder or bowel control:
In severe cases, pressure on the spinal cord can cause loss of bladder or bowel control. The nerves responsible for bowel and bladder control are located in the lower part of the spinal cord and exit through small openings in the lower spine. When spinal stenosis occurs in this area, the nerves can become pinched, leading to a loss of sensation and muscle control in the bladder and bowel. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
Spinal stenosis can also cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women. sexual dysfunction in both men and women. This is because the condition can affect the nerves and blood flow to the genitals, which are important for sexual arousal and function.
It is important to note that not everyone with spinal stenosis will experience all of these symptoms. In fact, some people may have no symptoms at all. However, if you are having the above symptoms, then see a doctor.
CERVICAL SPINAL STENOSIS
Cervical spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal in the neck becomes narrowed. This results in compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots. This narrowing can be caused by a number of factors, including degenerative changes in the spine, herniated discs, bone spurs, or other abnormalities.
Symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the location of the compressed nerves. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
- Weakness in the arms or hands
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
Diagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis requires a physical exam, medical history, and imaging tests. Treatment for cervical spinal stenosis may include physical therapy, medication, or surgery.
It is important to consult with a doctor if you are having symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis. Early treatment can help prevent further damage to the spinal cord.
LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS
The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae, labeled L1 through L5, with the top being L1 and the bottom of the spine being L5. The nerve roots that exit the spinal cord at each level of the lumbar spine correspond to specific areas of the body. For example, the nerve roots that exit the spinal cord at the L4-L5 supply sensation to the thighs and feet. While the nerve roots that exit at the L5-S1 level supply sensation to the legs and feet.
In lumbar spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal can occur at any level of the lumbar spine. The symptoms you will experience depend on which nerves are affected.
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis depend on the location of the compressed nerves. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet
- Numbness or tingling in the legs or feet
- Weakness in the legs or feet
- Difficulty walking and trouble with balance
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis can be made worse by physical activity or sitting and standing for long periods of time. Sitting and standing can increase pressure on the affected nerves.
Diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis usually requires a physical exam, medical history, and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. Treatment for the condition may include physical therapy, medication, or surgery.
It is important to consult with a doctor if you are having symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. Early treatment can limit your pain and improve the outcome of the disease.
TREATMENT FOR SPINAL STENOSIS
Your treatment for spinal stenosis will depend on how severe your medical condition is and where your spinal stenosis is located. Additionally, the treatment your doctor is willing to provide will also factor in your age and and overall health. The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and your pain level.
The following are some common treatment options for spinal stenosis:
- Physical Therapy: Exercises can improve muscle strength to the muscles that support the spine. Exercise can also improve balance and coordination. Improve mobility can reduce pain.
- Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, may relieve pain. Other medications such as muscle relaxers may also be given to you by the doctor to help with muscle spasms.
- Steroid Injections: Steroid injections can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. They are usually done by a doctor who uses an x-ray to guide the shot into the correct place on your back.
- Surgery: Surgery may relieve pressure on the affected nerves in your lumbar or cervical spine. The type of surgery will depend on the location and severity of the spinal stenosis.
- Changes in position: Simple changes in the position of your body can also help to manage symptoms. For example, you might be able to manage your pain level by avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time.
It is important to consult with a doctor to determine the best treatment approach for your specific case of spinal stenosis.
IS SPINAL STENOSIS A DISABILITY?
Spinal stenosis can be a disabling condition if it is severe and affects your ability to perform daily activities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a set of rules for evaluating SSDI and SSI claims for spinal stenosis. Their rules take into account how severe your medical condition is and how it impacts your ability to work.
However, it is important to note that not everyone with spinal stenosis will be paid benefits. The SSA looks at each case on an individual basis, because everyone is different. If you are experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis that prevent you from working, then you should apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. Please remember, your symptoms must prevent you from working for 12 months or more in order to be paid benefits.
It’s important to note that surgery is considered a last resort for spinal stenosis. Most people with the condition are able to manage their symptoms without surgery. They manage their pain by doing physical therapy and taking medications. Surgery is done only if other treatments have not worked or if the spinal stenosis is going to cause loss of bowel or bladder control.
SSA LISTING 1.16 FOR SPINAL STENOSIS
1.16 Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in compromise of the cauda equina, documented by A, B, C, and D:
A. Symptoms of neurological compromise manifested as:
1. Nonradicular distribution of pain in one or both lower extremities; or
2. Nonradicular distribution of sensory loss in one or both lower extremities; or
B. Nonradicular neurological signs present during physical exam or on a diagnostic test and evidenced by 1 and either 2 or 3:
2. Sensory changes evidenced by:
b. Sensory nerve deficit (abnormal sensory nerve latency) on electrodiagnostic testing; or
c. Areflexia, trophic ulceration, or bladder or bowel incontinence.
3. Decreased deep tendon reflexes in one or both lower extremities.
C. Findings on imaging or in an operative report consistent with compromise of the cauda equina with lumbar spinal stenosis.
D. Impairment related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning that has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and medical documentation of at least one of the following:
1. A documented medical need for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands; or
2. An inability to use one upper extremity to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work related activities involving fine and gross movements, and a documented medical need for a one handed, hand held assistive device that requires the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand.
SPINAL STENOSIS & FUNCTIONAL LIMITATIONS
In order to prove you cannot work due to spinal stenosis, your back symptoms must last longer than 12 months. When making the decision as to whether you will be paid benefits, the SSA will also look at any functional limits you have that affect your ability to work a full time job. Functional limits are physical restrictions. In other words, they are activities you are not able to do because of your back condition.
If you spinal stenosis does not meet or equal listing 1.16, then you can still win benefits using your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA will assume a certain RFC for you that is drawn from your medical records. Therefore, it is important to have the doctor who is treating you for your spinal stenosis complete an RFC form. Our firm will send an RFC form to your treating doctor to complete. The medical opinion of your doctor should be taken into account by the SSA when they determine your eligibility for benefits.
PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS FROM SPINAL STENOSIS
If you have spinal stenosis, then there are certain physical limits that may keep your from working. However, it is important that your treating medical sources document your physical limits in your medical record. These physical limits include:
- Being unable to walk for more than one block without needing to take a break
- Needing to use a two canes or a walker in order to walk
- Not being able to bend over or stoop down
- Being unable to lift objects over ten pounds
- Inability to sit or stand for at least two hours in an eight hour work day
- Needing to elevate your legs above your heart during the eight hour work day
- Due to pain, needing to lay down for large portions of the day
- Being unable to sit down in a work chair for at least six hours during an eight hour work day
You can think of these limits as physical issues that would impact your ability to work 40 hours a week. If you have even a few of these physical limits, it may mean that you cannot work. Find out more about winning benefits with your residual functional capacity here. Unfortunately, your testimony about your limits only goes so far to prove that you cannot work. You will also need medical proof. Therefore, having the support of your doctor is crucial to winning benefits.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW CAN HELP YOU WIN BENEFITS
At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for Social Security benefits if you cannot work due to spinal stenosis. You will need to be off work for over one year in order to win SSD and SSI benefits.
Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court. If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court and represent you not matter where you live.
Not only do we want to win you ongoing benefits, we also try to win all of your past due Social Security benefits. When you file your application, it can take so long to get through the appeal process that you will be due back benefits. Also, if you have previous applications, you might be able to win past due benefits on those prior applications. Learn more about past due benefits here.
Also, we bring over 30 years of legal experience to your SSD and SSI case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been helping clients win SSA hearings for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases for our clients. You can trust we will do everything we can to win your SSDI and SSI benefits for spinal stenosis.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you have spinal stenosis, then you do not need to apply for Social Security benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Appeal if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the witnesses
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an SSA decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.
IS HIRING OUR LAW FIRM EXPENSIVE?
No. We are not expensive, because we only charge you an attorney fee if we win your case.
It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit.
Also, there is a fee cap set at $7200 by the SSA. You never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the fee cap and 25% of your back benefit.
If there are costs in your case, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your cost.
You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. But those costs include paying for your medical records and are usually less than $100. Your attorney fee, however, comes from your back benefit and you pay an attorney fee if we win your case.
We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
HIRE US FOR OUR YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERIENCE
If you have spinal stenosis disease, you need to hire a law firm with experience to help you win your benefits. Cannon Disability is one of the best Social Security law firms in the country. We are known as one of the best Social Security benefits firm in Las Vegas, Nevada. Also, we are one of the best Social Security law firms in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Our attorneys are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada SSI Information can also be found on this website. We also represent clients in Idaho. Find out more about Colorado SSDI benefits here. Likewise, if you are from California, California SSD & SSI information can also be found on our website.
Over the last 30 years, we have won thousands of SSD and SSI claims. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in SSD and SSI benefits for our clients. It has become more difficult to win Social Security cases. Also, SSA’s listing rules are harder to meet. That is why you need an attorney who will help you win your case.
We recommend you do not go to your hearing without an attorney. Why? Because a lawyer can prepare you for your hearing. She can explain the judge’s questions. Preparation will help you win your case.
Those who come to the hearing without counsel are usually not successful in winning benefits. You should hire an attorney with experience winning SSD and SSI cases. Contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can help you win benefits for spinal stenosis. Contact us today for your free review of your case. We want to help you if you cannot work due to spinal stenosis.