Spinal fusion is a surgery that is used to treat many spinal disorders. While sometimes an individual regains movement and can work after the spinal fusion, there are some people who don’t fully recover or see major improvement, so they are still unable to work. Spinal fusion is a surgery that involves connecting two or more vertebrae to create a solid piece of bone.
The bones can be taken from the pelvic bone to bridge the vertebrae, or it may come from a bone bank. The goal is to help with new growth of bone. The vertebrae are held together with metal implants until there is new growth of the bone. Thousands of people undergo surgery every year, but the procedure does have risks.
Spinal Fusion And Your Ability To Perform Physical Work
Some of the risks of spinal fusion include infection, spinal nerve damage, degeneration, or instability of the spine. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if an individual meets the medical criteria to be approved for disability benefits. There are several listings in the Blue Book that apply to spinal disorders.
While spinal fusion itself doesn’t have a specific listing, Section 1.04 of the Blue Book specifies the criteria for disorders of the spine. If your condition has led to a disorder of the spinal cord, you may be able to meet the criteria under the neurological section, which is Section 11.08 in the Blue Book. Even if you don’t meet a Blue Book listing, you may qualify for disability using a residual functional capacity (RFC) form and proving your condition keeps you from working. You must provide documentation to show your restrictions and limitations as well as all symptoms and side effects.
Spinal Fusion And Your Ability To Perform Sedentary Work
The least strenuous work that you can perform is called sedentary work. During the disability claims process, your condition will be reviewed to determine if you can perform sedentary work. You must provide a complete medical history of your spinal condition. Hard medical evidence is essential to a claim’s success. Your physician notes should include any symptoms, your history and the progression of your spinal condition, and the details of your full physical exam.
Your medical records must address several issues, so your claim can be successful. If your medical records address issues such as any leg pain being caused by nerve root compression, which is called pseudo claudication; the loss of feeling or reflexes caused by nerve root compression; difficulties with your mobility caused by pain, weakness, or numbness; loss of reflexes or feeling caused by nerve root compression; if you require help because of weakness, numbness, or pain; and results of a straight leg raise test, both sitting down and lying down.
Some of the diagnostic tests that you can use to support your documented systems include imaging results like CT scans or MRIs, a complete record of your surgical procedure, and any complications such as a syndrome from the failed back surgery. If you are unable to work because of a spinal disorder that spinal fusion didn’t correct, visit ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 to start the process.