A worker who suffers work-related degenerative disc disease may lose out on workers’ compensation benefits.
Degenerative disc and joint disease is usually associated with aging. However, with the kind of stressful lives we lead today, work-related pressures can cause physical stress or injuries at the workplace. These types of injuries are often neglected, causing permanent damage or disabilities to workers at a younger age, leaving them unable to earn a living.
A worker who suffers work-related degenerative disc disease may lose out on workers’ compensation benefits because he or she is unable to prove that the condition is work-related. It is important for workers who are susceptible to work-related degenerative disc disease to have the correct information regarding the condition.
What is Degenerative Disc and Joint Disease?
Degenerative disc disease involves the slow degeneration process of the soft compressed discs separating the vertebrae and causing the surrounding nerves to compress. This leads to pain, disturbances in the nerve roots or spinal cord, instability, or a combination of these problems. Degenerated disc disease affects people who do heavy physical labor, suffer a sudden fall, or are injured by a falling object. It most commonly affects the lower back lumbar region or the cervical region. If left untreated it can lead to serious chronic conditions, such as arthritis, herniated disc, or spinal stenosis (where the spinal canal, or the open space in the spine that holds the spinal cord, narrows). These conditions can be treated with surgery and physical therapy.
Workplace Injuries That Cause Degenerative Disc Disease
Certain occupations can predispose an individual to developing degenerative disc disease. Jobs that require heavy lifting, long distance walking, or squatting (for example – plumbing) put a worker at a higher risk. The Liberty Mutual Insurance Workplace Safety Index has listed the top five workplace injuries that can cause degenerative disc disease.
- overexertion caused by continuous lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or throwing
- injuries caused by falls on the same level
- injuries caused by falls to a lower level
- injuries caused by bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping, or tripping
- being injured by a tool or falling material
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Degenerative disc and joint diseases are extremely common and are naturally occurring disorders that occur over a long period of time. This can make it difficult for a worker to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Most often, the claim may be denied as a naturally occurring condition.
You may need help proving the relationship between your work-related injury and degenerative disc disease. Contact a St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. Call us at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.