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The United States is experiencing an aging population, with many citizens in their fifties and above. Due to the retirement age, many workers are forced to stay on the job, even when their health isn't at its best. Some people suffer from serious illnesses that make it impossible to work, and they are frequently in need of financial assistance.
Medical conditions, particularly as we age, can lead to disability in many people. You might not be aware of a disabling condition until a doctor diagnoses it for you. Foraminal Stenosis is a spinal disorder that can cause extreme pain and eventually prevents you from working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may require you to apply for disability benefits if you suffer from advanced Foraminal Stenosis. The process of applying for disability benefits often requires the assistance of an attorney. Before answering the question “is foraminal stenosis a disability?” you need to understand the SSA process and the disease.
Foraminal Stenosis Basics
Spinal Stenosis is the same as Foraminal Stenosis. A narrowing of the spaces between your vertebrae, called foramen, causes it. The narrowing of the arteries can result in debilitating symptoms, including pain and limited mobility. Nerves travel to other body parts from the spine through the foramen, causing pain and other symptoms.
Depending on which part of your spine is affected, you may have a specific type of foraminal stenosis. Among the types are:
- Cervical Stenosis – narrowing of the neck foramen.
- Thoracic Stenosis – narrowing of the upper back foramen.
- Lumbar Stenosis – narrowing of the lower back foramen.
People with mild forms of stenosis do not qualify for SSA disability benefits, while those with more severe forms do.
Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis
The presence of stenosis can be challenging to detect. There is no guarantee that you will suffer any symptoms from spinal stenosis, at least at first. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Pain in the spine and extremities,
- Muscle weakness
It may seem that your symptoms are relatively mild and never worsen or may eventually worsen to impair your ability to complete routine duties, walk or even care for yourself.
Causes of Foraminal Stenosis
Stenosis of the spine is often caused by aging. Many people aged 50 and over suffer from some form of stenosis. The spaces around your spine may narrow after decades of normal wear and tear. Although much less common, young people can also suffer from this issue.
Injuries and diseases of the spine may also lead to spinal stenosis. Bulging discs can cause pressure on the nerves and foramen, leading to stenosis symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling. Bulging discs may occur due to an automobile accident, a work injury, or a sports injury.
There are various causes of foraminal stenosis, including osteoarthritis. This disease may cause a bone spur, and that pressure will result in stenosis. A tumor, dwarfism, enlarged ligaments, or spondylolisthesis - a condition in which the vertebrae slip out of place and place pressure on the nerves - can also cause this condition.
Treatments for Foraminal Stenosis
Exercise and over-the-counter medications are often effective in managing mild cases of spinal stenosis. Physical therapy prescribed by your doctor may be the best way to achieve the best results. According to some research, physical therapy can help relieve stenosis symptoms just as effectively as surgery. Standing squats, pelvic tilts, and bends are excellent exercises for improving flexibility and balance.
It may be necessary to experiment with different exercises to determine which ones work best for you, but aerobic exercises like swimming and bicycling may also relieve symptoms. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can alleviate your pain. In more extreme cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers, such as opiate drugs. As with all medications, you must be very cautious when taking them to avoid becoming dependent on them.
The injection of corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation and pain, can also be beneficial. The pain can sometimes be relieved for a long time with injections of nerve blocks. Alternative treatments may be effective for some patients with stenosis. For instance, chiropractic treatments that realign your spine and muscles may reduce stenosis symptoms. Patients who suffer from this condition have also cited acupuncture as helpful.
Your physician may suggest surgery if nothing else works. People with severe pain and mobility issues are more likely to receive this treatment as a last resort. Patients who lose bladder control may also undergo this treatment. You may not be able to perform your job duties or look after yourself at this stage of stenosis.
There is a possibility that your surgeon will perform one or more of the following surgeries.
- Laminectomy – The doctor removes the bone and ligament, causing the pinched nerve.
- Foraminotomy – When the surgeon creates more space for the nerves to exit the spine and travel throughout the body.
- Spinal Fusion – Doctors fuse vertebrae so they can't move and cause pain and nerve pressure.
If you suffer from Foraminal Stenosis, you may have many treatment procedures but still have limitations. There is the possibility that you will need SSD benefits during your treatment and after.
Applying for Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article on how secondary medical conditions affect your Veterans’ disability benefits. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!