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Facet Syndrome: How it Affects the Sufferer and When to File for SSDI

Have you been diagnosed with facet joint syndrome or facet disease? Disability benefits may be available to you if your condition has made it impossible for you to earn a living. Below is an overview of this potentially debilitating disease and what is necessary to apply for disability benefits in such circumstances.

Facet Syndrome: Symptoms and Underlying Causes

Facet syndrome is a degenerative condition in which the facet joints of the spine deteriorate. This causes pain and may greatly reduce mobility and flexibility. A patient may experience intense muscle spasms.

The facet joints can be found on both sides of the lumbar spine and help with twisting movements. A compromised facet joint cannot provide sufficient rotation. This may cause a person to have to turn his or her entire body to look to one side.

Meanwhile, facet joints are packed with nerves. Any inflammation or injury can result in a painful stimulus, according to Dr. Steven C. Ludwig of the University of Maryland Medical Center writing for the ABC News website.

Facet syndrome can arise from regular wear and tear and may be associated with age. It also can be seen in conjunction with conditions such as osteoarthritis and pinched nerves (facet hypertrophy).

Diagnosis and Treatment for Facet Joint Syndrome 

According to Cedars-Sinai non-profit hospital and research institution, a physician can make a diagnosis by assessing a patient’s relief when he or she is treated with an anti-inflammatory at the suspected injury site. This is performed by first injecting the patient with a localized anesthetic, followed by an anti-inflammatory in the joint.

A physician may inject the affected joints with steroids to help control symptoms, according to Cedars-Sinai. This treatment typically is required for a prolonged period of time.

Other potential treatments besides steroids include:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • assistive devices (like braces);
  • physical therapy; and
  • surgery (such as a rhizotomy – which includes severing certain nerve roots).

 

Physicians typically will begin with the least invasive measures and save surgery for the most severe cases. 

When to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

You should consider filing for monthly disability benefits if your facet syndrome-related symptoms have made it impossible for you to work.

Disability benefits are provided via the Social Security Administration and are available in two forms:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – based on the applicant’s financial need; and
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – based on the applicant’s work history.

 

To qualify for either form of assistance you must prove that your degenerative condition has limited your functional capacity. You can do this by presenting substantial medical documentation from your treating physicians and other qualified witnesses.

Evidence includes:

  • test results (x-rays and MRIs);
  • official diagnosis;
  • treatment history (including response to prescribed treatments and medications); and
  • witness statements about how your condition impacts your daily activities (such as “Mr. Smith cannot sit for more than 10 minutes at a time without changing positions”).

 

Do you have questions about whether you qualify for disability benefits? Schedule a free case evaluation with a disability attorney at Rob Levine & Associates by contacting our offices at 866-LAW-SSDI.