Disability Benefits for Herniated Discs: What You Need to Know

Depending on the severity of your herniated disc, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. To learn more about your eligibility, speak with a disability benefits specialist or contact your local Social Security office.

Understanding Disability and Herniated Discs

When it comes to disability benefits for herniated discs, it is important to understand the differences between disability and Herniated Discs. While these terms may seem interchangeable, they are actually quite different. Disability can refer to an individual’s physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, speaking, hearing or seeing. However, a herniated disc refers to the medical condition in which the inner part of a spinal disc escapes and presses against surrounding nerves causing pain and other issues.

There is much debate over whether individuals suffering from herniated discs should be eligible for disability benefits. Proponents of providing benefits suggest that the condition can severely limit movement and cause disabling amounts of pain, thus making sufferers unable to work. Others argue that providing benefits will lead to an increase in people exaggerating symptoms and filing unnecessary claims which could take away from much-needed resources and funds allocated for other disabilities.

Regardless of opinion, having an understanding of disability benefits for herniated Discs is essential when it comes time to file a claim. In the following section we will provide a definition of a herniated Disc as well as more information about disability benefits for this specific diagnosis.

  • According to a 2018 research study, most people with a herniated disc recover within six weeks with conservative treatment.
  • A review of studies published in 2016 found that the majority of patients with lumbar herniated discs had complete symptom resolution after one year.
  • A 2019 study concluded that 70% to 80% of people with herniated discs improve with non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy and activity modification.

Definition of a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is a medical condition in which the gel-like cushioning material in between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine slips out of place. This can be an extremely painful experience, and if left untreated, can potentially cause nerve damage throughout the body. It’s important to know that herniated discs are often referred to as “slipped” discs and bulging discs, though these terms technically refer to slightly different injuries.

When a disc slips out of place or ruptures, it creates pressure on nearby nerves, which can lead to extreme pain, tingling, loss of sensation and/or loss of motor function. Depending on the severity of the herniation, symptoms may manifest as either chronic discomfort or sudden, sharp pain radiating from the lower back down one or both legs. A herniated disc is different than a fracture in that it does not involve bone trauma and typically does not require surgery to correct.

There is much debate over whether disability benefits should be granted for herniated discs since it is difficult to objectively measure the severity of this type of injury. Some argue that disability benefits should be provided for those with herniated discs due to their inability to work or their need for continued treatment. On the other hand, many point out that there are varying degrees of herniated discs, making it challenging for insurers or employers to predict when and if a claimant needs additional assistance after being diagnosed.

No matter what side of the debate you may fall on, it’s important that those suffering from a herniated disc receive proper medical attention and seek out advice from their medical provider regarding diagnosis and treatment plans before deciding if they are eligible for disability benefits. To better understand why so many people suffer from herniated discs, let’s take a closer look at what causes them in the next section.

Causes of Herniated Discs

When a herniated disc occurs, one of the discs between two vertebrae can become damaged and it can bulge, which can be painful and cause a number of other medical issues. Herniated discs can be caused by a range of different things. Some of the more common causes are aging, trauma or injury, repetitive motions, poor muscular strength and poor posture.

There is debate about the role that genetics may have in causing herniated discs. Some believe genetic makeup can cause weak spinal muscles, thus leading to a higher risk for herniated discs. Others argue that although genetics may have an influence, environmental factors play a larger role in developing herniated discs. Despite varying opinions, there is no conclusive evidence for the role that genetics plays in causing herniated discs; research does however note that those with family history of disc disease are at higher risk for herniation.

It is important to understand the underlying cause of a herniated disc so that lifestyle changes can be considered to help prevent further problems from developing such as wearing supportive shoes or avoiding certain exercises and activities if they put strain on the back.

Now that we have gone over the causes of herniated discs it’s time to look at the symptoms. In the following section we will discuss what symptoms should prompt an individual to seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of Herniated Discs

Herniated discs, also known as slipped or ruptured discs, occur when the cartilage that cushions the vertebrae in the spine bulges out and presses on the nerves nearby. This can cause a variety of symptoms including pain in the lower back or neck, numbness in the leg or arms, tingling sensations in the body, muscle spasms in the back or neck, as well as other potential issues with mobility or strength. In some cases, people with herniated discs may experience sciatica—sharp pains radiating down the legs.

When it comes to diagnosing herniated discs, there is debate among medical professionals regarding how to diagnose them most effectively. Some doctors recommend imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans, while others opt for a physical examination and observe symptoms and range of motion to make a diagnosis. Each approach has its pros and cons: imaging can provide an accurate picture of where the herniation is located, but it can be expensive; physical examinations are more cost effective but can be difficult to interpret due to various underlying factors such as age, overall health, etc. Ultimately deciding on which diagnostic method to use depends on each individual patient’s situation.

Once a diagnosis has been made and confirmed, it is important to consider treatment options. Both non-surgical treatments such as medications and physical therapy, as well as surgical options should be explored in order to determine what is best for managing symptoms.

Now that we have discussed the symptoms of herniated discs and their diagnosis, let’s look at the various treatments available for this condition in our next section about “Diagnosis and Treatment of Herniated Discs”.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Herniated Discs

Herniated discs are generally diagnosed by a physical exam and imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan. Because the symptoms of a herniated disc can often mimic those of other conditions, obtaining the correct diagnosis is essential to determine if you may be eligible for disability benefits.

Treatment for herniated discs typically involves trying non-invasive options such as physical therapy, pain medications, and hot/cold therapy first. Additionally, over-the-counter braces or corsets can be used to help with posture and support the spine, which may reduce muscle strain and lower back pain. In some cases, more invasive options such as epidural injections or surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerves caused by the herniated disc.

When it comes to herniated disc treatment, there are many factors to consider in determining what is right for each individual, including age, health condition, previous medical history, lifestyle and activity level. For example, do patients want surgical intervention that might bring quicker relief or would they prefer to take a slower approach through physical therapy or medication? Physical therapists can work with individuals to assess their lifestyles and come up with a plan that meets their needs. While this may prolong disability applications and benefit approval timelines, it will also ensure that individuals receive treatment plans tailored specifically for them.

The debate surrounding the best course of action for treating herniated discs runs deep, with proponents of both approaches making convincing arguments. Some argue that taking the non-invasive route reduces risk and offers long term solutions that are not possible with surgery alone. Others feel that surgery should be considered when conservative treatments have failed due to its faster recovery time. Ultimately, it’s up to individuals to make decisions about their own care in conversation with their doctor based on their unique situations.

At this point in your research into disability benefits for herniated discs, it is important to understand when you should seek professional help. The next section will discuss when you should seek assistance from your doctor or other healthcare professionals.

When to Seek Professional Help

When it comes to disability benefits related to herniated discs, knowing when to seek professional help is key. For example, if you’re experiencing pain, tingling, numbness or problems moving the area of your body where the herniated disc is located, you should look for medical help immediately. If you’ve been suffering from any of these symptoms for more than a few days, seeking professional assistance is paramount.

There is also the argument that in some cases consulting with a doctor even before the onset of symptoms related to herniation can be beneficial. In particular, if someone has had a disc injury in the past and/or may have existing mitigating factors such as age, physical activity level, obesity or other health conditions they can address the risk with their provider. By better understanding why this particular area of their body is prone to injury, they can gain useful insight into how severe their potential issues might be in the future.

Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, when considering potential disability benefits for herniated discs it’s important to stay informed and get appropriate medical and legal advice whenever necessary. With that said, there are certain specialists that can provide supportive counsel and information about each step of the process. This will be discussed further in the next section: “Supportive Specialists for Herniated Discs”.

Supportive Specialists for Herniated Discs

When seeking disability benefits for herniated discs, it is essential to identify the right specialists who can support your case. Depending on the severity of your herniated disc, the professionals you might need to be in contact with can vary from an orthopaedic surgeon, a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and a neurologist. Having supportive specialists on your side will boost the chances for you to receive disability benefits.

Physical therapists are specialists that focus on alleviating pain caused by injuries and diseases through exercise. They can help provide evidence of the mobility barriers caused by a herniated disc. Furthermore, physical therapists can monitor strength tests which provide further evidence of deficit mobility associated with a herniated disc. Orthopaedic surgeons are physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions of bones and joints such as herniated discs. Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the nervous system, providing further credibility to the case to disprove common myths that medical conditions should have no effects on one’s ability to perform daily activities. Chiropractors have extensive knowledge in scope related to spinal health and alignment; thus, representing another outcome of supportive specialists for cases involving herniated discs.

On one hand, chiropractors are likely able to provide substantial support for cases involving herniated discs since they specialize in spinal health and alignment; however, some experts debate whether their treatments offer long-term solutions or temporary relief for individuals suffering from chronic back pain due to herniated disks. On the other hand, those using chiropractic interventions report significant reduction in chronic back pain symptoms associated with herniated discs following treatment from chiropractors such as improved muscular strength and stability of the spine without any side effects or form of addiction like drugs.

Overall, having supportive specialists such as physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists, and chiropractors makes disability benefit claims much more credible when it comes to cases involving herniated discs. Leading into the next section which will cover different treatments available for herniated discs, it is important to understand which specialists are best suited to help with these types of claims before diving into therapeutic strategies.

Possible Treatments for Herniated Discs

Herniated discs can cause a great deal of pain in the spine—and, if left untreated, may lead to further complications. Therefore, seeking treatment can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms and even alleviate them entirely.

Treatments for herniated discs vary depending on the individual’s situation and may include both non-surgical and surgical options. For example, most people with herniated discs find relief with non-surgical treatments such as rest, physical therapy, medications, injections, and chiropractic care. Often these treatments provide sufficient pain relief; however, in more advanced cases surgery may be necessary. Depending on the extent of damage to the disc and surrounding area, surgical options are available that range from a minimally invasive laminotomy or laminectomy to more extensive interventions such as discectomy or spinal fusion.

Despite the effectiveness of some forms of interventions for treating herniated discs—particularly physical therapy and medications—there is still debate about whether surgery should be used at all. Proponents of this option insist that it reduces pain levels quickly and can prevent further damage to the spine. On the other hand, opponents claim that it is unnecessary in most cases and carries with it a certain degree of risk due to being an invasive procedure. Ultimately, it is between the patient and primary healthcare provider to determine which approach is most appropriate for individual circumstances.

Having discussed possible treatments for herniated discs—both non-surgical and surgical—the next section will focus on medicinal treatments for those suffering from this condition.

Medicinal Treatments

Medicinal Treatments for Herniated Discs

In addition to physical therapies and exercises, medicinal treatments are often used to reduce the pain resulting from herniated discs. Some people may benefit from the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen for short-term relief. Depending on the severity of the injury, opioid narcotic medications or palliative epidural injections may also be prescribed. While these types of medications can provide effective relief of acute pain in some individuals, they generally do not address the underlying causes or promote healing in any way. Further, there remains debate over their prolonged use due to their potential side effects.

On one hand, proponents argue that NSAIDs can be part of an effective overall treatment plan given their ability to reduce inflammation and its related symptoms. Moreover, medical studies have found that taking opioids in addition to NSAIDs can lead to better pain management with no greater risk for addiction or adverse side effects. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that extended use of opioids can lead to a potential for addiction and other negative side effects such as constipation and drowsiness. Viewpoints also differ on the efficacy and safety of epidural steroids as a treatment option for herniated discs. Many providers caution against long-term usage citing potential risks such as nerve damage, increased blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and decreased immune response.

For individuals seeking more natural remedies for herniated discs, options such as homeopathic therapy with herbs and supplements may provide temporary symptom relief without the fear of dependency or long-term harm associated with some traditional medical treatments. Ultimately, outcomes depend on a variety of factors including age and general health conditions so it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider when deciding which methods are most advantageous in reducing discomfort while still promoting healing.

The next step towards recovery from a herniated disc is usually physical therapies and exercises tailored to each individual’s symptoms and lifestyle needs.

Physical Therapies and Exercises

When it comes to disability benefits for herniated discs, physical therapies and exercises are important components of treatment. Depending on the severity of the injury, physical therapy and regular stretching exercises may be recommended by your physician as a form of non-surgical treatment.

Physical therapists can help patients with herniated disc issues by identifying weak muscles or areas causing improper posture and developing an individualized exercise program to strengthen, stretch and/or relax those areas. This type of physical therapy has been found to reduce pain, improve function, enhance mobility, increase flexibilty and prevent future back injuries or recurrence.

On the other hand, some medical professionals argue that there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of treatments such as physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. They point out that strenuous activities like weight lifting can make herniated discs worse in some cases. The best first step for most would be activity modification in order to prevent further injury.

In any case, before beginning any type of physical therapy or exercise routine, it is important to consult with your doctor or health care provider who understands your specific condition so you can ensure that the kind of activity prescribed is safe for you.

With a focus on physical therapies and exercises now behind us, the next section will discuss another important aspect of herniated disc treatment: Surgery.


Surgery is often the last resort for a diagnosis of a herniated disc, due to its risks and potential for chronic pain afterwards. In general, the earlier a surgery is performed on a herniated disc, the better the odds of successful recovery. If the herniation has caused nerve damage, then surgery may be recommended in order to alleviate pressure on nerves that may have been pinched or damaged. Additionally, if conservative treatments – such as steroid injections or physical therapy – have not alleviated symptoms after several months, then surgery might be considered as an appropriate follow-up treatment.

When it comes to evaluating eligibility for disability benefits related to the herniated disc, it’s important to review any records of a failed surgeries. It’s also essential that the applicant document any complications related to the surgery, even if they do not lead directly to medical disabilities. This includes infections and post-operative complications that can cause prolonged suffering and prolonged healing times.

Another factor for consideration is that some herniated discs can cause recurrent bouts of severe pain despite being successfully treated through surgery. In these cases, continued benefits may be necessary since recurrent pain from a herniated disc can be disabling, with periods of extreme agony requiring frequent hospital visits and surgical intervention.

These potential risks should be carefully assessed before making a decision about having spinal surgery for a herniated disc. Ultimately, it’s wise to research all options for disability benefits related to herniated discs prior to undergoing surgery in order to provide maximum coverage in case of subsequent complications.

Finally, it’s important to understand that numerous medical studies demonstrate varying levels of effectiveness when it comes to surgeries on herniated discs; efficacy varies based on how long an individual has had the herniation, depending on age and other factors.

With this in mind, let’s move into considering the conclusion and next steps related to disability benefits for herniated discs.


The decision of whether or not to apply for disability benefits for a herniated disc depends on many factors, including the severity of the injury, the financial and medical situation of the individual, and whether or not there are other contributing factors such as a pre-existing condition or age. In any case, it is important to consider seeking professional advice if disability benefits are considered. Furthermore, if disability benefits are received, it is also important to remember that they are not guaranteed; they may depend on the individual’s ability to provide proper evidence of hardship and prove that their condition has prevented them from working.

While obtaining disability benefits can often be difficult, particularly in cases where the herniated disc was caused by another condition or due to age, those that do qualify may discover that it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Disability benefits for herniated discs can provide necessary financial resources for an individual with limited ability to work as well as access to additional medical care. It is therefore important for individuals considering applying for disability benefits for herniated discs to research all available options thoroughly and carefully and seek out professional help when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Is there any help available for managing the symptoms of a herniated disc-related disability?

Yes, there are a variety of options available to help manage the symptoms associated with herniated disc-related disabilities. Depending on the severity of your condition and its potential impact on your day-to-day activities, it’s important to talk with a medical professional about assessing which treatments are best for you. Some of these may include pain management therapies such as physical therapy, medications, lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet modifications, chiropractic treatments, or even surgery in more severe cases. Additionally, if you have suffered an economic impact due to your disability, you may be eligible for benefits through the Social Security program or other state/federal programs. Overall, it’s essential to talk with a medical doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your specific situation.

What treatment options are available for a herniated disc-related disability?

When it comes to treating herniated discs, there are a variety of options available. The first line of treatment is usually conservative management such as rest, physical therapy, muscle relaxants, alternating cold and heat therapy, pain relievers, and epidural corticosteroid injections. In some cases, more invasive measures such as surgery may be necessary.

Surgery can be used to relieve the pressure that is causing pain and disability. There are a few different types of surgery that may be appropriate for herniated discs: discectomy or microdiscectomy (removing a section of the disc), spinal fusion (joining two or more vertebrae together), and laminectomy (make more room for nerve roots by removing bone).

In addition to these treatment options, other therapies such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or electric stimulation may also be recommended depending on the severity of the injury. It’s important to talk to your doctor about which option is best for you — recovery time, risks and benefits should all be taken into account before making a decision.

What kind of disability benefits are available for a herniated disc?

There are a variety of disability benefits available for those with a herniated disc. Depending on the severity of the injury, individuals may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans’ Benefits.

Social Security Disability benefits are based on medically determinable impairments that affect an individual’s ability to work and provide financial support. If an individual is unable to sustain substantial gainful activity due to a herniated disc, they may qualify for SSD.

Supplemental Security Income is need-based and designed to help supplement the income of individuals who are disabled and have limited financial resources. To qualify for SSI, an individual must have a qualifying disability, such as a herniated disc, and their income must be below the program’s limit.

Veterans’ Benefits can also provide financial assistance for those with a herniated disc resulting from military service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several programs tailored to veterans who have been injured or disabled while serving in the armed forces. These include disability compensation, pension, education, health care and other services.

In addition to these government disability benefits, many employers offer short- or long-term disability insurance policies for employees who suffer from a herniated disc. However, eligibility requirements may vary depending on the specific policy held by the employer so it is important to contact the insurer directly in order to determine what type of coverage is available.

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