Sunday, January 8, 2012

Degenerative Disc Disease and MN Workers’ Comp: Exercise and Physical Therapy for Pain Management

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain, and it can significantly impact your ability to do your normal day to day activities, and your ability to work.

Degenerative disc disease refers to changes to the spinal discs from chronic wear and tear or injury. There are a variety of treatment options for degenerative disc disease, including exercise and physical therapy. For individuals suffering from degenerative disc disease, a regular routine of back or neck exercises can prevent neck or back pain and/or reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of flare-ups. Stretching exercises can improve range of motion, which in turn, can reduce neck or back pain. Strengthening exercises can help stabilize the spinal segments, and stronger muscles can help compensate for degenerated discs. Before beginning an exercise or therapy program, consult with your spinal specialist.

In the context of workers’ compensation, in many cases, degenerative disc disease is a condition that is covered for work comp benefits. The condition itself may be caused by an employee’s work activities, or an employee’s work activities may have substantially contributed to the condition.
Alternatively, an employee may suffer an aggravation of underlying degenerative disc disease, which is covered by workers’ compensation.

While the term “degenerative disc disease” refers to a medical condition, for workers’ compensation insurance adjusters, the term is also a legal defense to a claim for benefits. In plain language, what that means is that if you are injured at work, and you are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, or there’s even a reference to degenerative disc disease in your medical records, be prepared for the work comp. adjuster to deny your claim on the basis that your condition is pre-existing.

Just because the workers’ compensation insurance company says your condition is pre-existing, doesn’t mean they’re right! 

In many cases, an individual’s work activities caused, or substantially contributed to, wear and tear on the spine over time, resulting in degenerative disc disease. That is a condition that IS covered by workers’ compensation, and is often referred to as a repetitive motion injury, or a Gillette-type injury.

In other cases, an individual’s work activities or an injury substantially aggravated or accelerated pre-existing degenerative disc disease. Again, in that instance, the injury IS covered by workers’ compensation.

If you are suffering from degenerative disc disease as a result of your work activities, you can expect that the workers’ compensation carrier will dispute your claim. It is important to speak with a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your rights. For a free, no-obligation consultation, contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.


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