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Degenerative Disc Disease
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Human aging is an inevitable process. As the body ages, joints begin to wear down which can cause pain, discomfort and other problems. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a common condition that affects many people over the age of 40 and occasionally some people in their 20’s and 30’s. It is a chronic, progressive condition that can lead to pain, stiffness and reduced mobility in the spine. DDD is not always caused by anything in particular, but by just mere day-to-day activities and part of the aging process. Your day to day activities contribute to it happening and of course work is part of that.
Individuals with DDD can experience pain because there is no longer cushion between the bones in the spine. In between each vertebra, there are rubbery discs that act as cushions which contribute to our height and facilitate bending and twisting. With age, our discs, which act as shock absorbers, begin to wear down. Eventually, the bones of the vertebra begin to rub against one another which is what causes pain and stiffness.
Some individuals may have DDD but never experience pain while others experience chronic pain. DDD is not a disease, but a condition in which the discs between the vertebrae in the spine become thin, brittle and prone to cracking. Factors that lead to Degenerative Disc Disease include:
- Drying out of discs with age
- Cracking of discs from everyday movement
- Tearing from minor injuries (i.e. lifting)
It is very common that workers may not realize that they have an underlying back problem simply because they haven’t experienced pain. As previously mentioned, it is possible to have DDD and experience no pain, but it is likely that an individual with DDD will get injured due to their work activities and develop a bulging disc or a herniation. This is because the discs in the spine weaken thus allowing more room for back problems. You could be pain free for a while, but one day lift something and have a rush of back pain and need medical care.
These cases can result from single or continuous events of lifting over time. It’s normal to occasionally feel pain or soreness after a long day of work. However, those occasional days of pain can not go away and lead to your body fully breaking down. In this case, it is necessary to seek medical attention. If your doctor believes that your job caused, aggravated, OR accelerated your back problem, you’d likely be entitled to work comp benefits. This would pay for all of your medical care and compensate you for your time off of work.
It’s important to know that even if you were experiencing back pain before your work injury, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation if the job made it worse. We are happy to speak with you about your specific situation and help determine if you have a case. There is no cost to speak with or hire a lawyer and they only get paid if they make a recovery for you.