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What is foraminal stenosis, and is it a disability?

Foraminal stenosis can cause several different and painful conditions. To understand foraminal stenosis, it helps to understand each word. Foraminal refers to a foramen, which is the anatomical term for a hole or opening, especially in a bone. Stenosis means an abnormal narrowing or constriction of a passageway in the body.

Foraminal stenosis, then, can refer to narrowing or restriction of the openings in the bones, such as those in the vertebrae. When it restricts the spinal canal through which the spinal cord runs, it is referred to as spinal stenosis, according to Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

What are the symptoms of foraminal stenosis?

Common symptoms of a foraminal stenosis include a pins-and-needles sensation in the arms or legs, as well as numbness and pain due to restriction of the spinal canal. The symptoms of foraminal stenosis relate to the location of the narrowing. If the stenosis is in the neck vertebrae, symptoms usually will be felt in the arms or shoulders. If the stenosis is in the lower parts of the back, the nerve pain is usually felt throughout the buttocks and legs.

What causes foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis can be either congenital, a result of various age-related conditions or the result of an injury. Some possible causes of foraminal stenosis include:

  • herniated or slipped discs;
  • tumors in the spine;
  • bony growths; and
  • arthritis in the vertebrae.

 

As these conditions suggest, foraminal stenosis is a serious medical condition that causes pain and restricted movement. Many people who have a foraminal stenosis are no longer able to work.

Can I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists spinal disorders, including spinal stenosis, as conditions that qualify as disabilities or impairments under its benefits system. However, in order to qualify for benefits, your condition must cause:

  • nerve root compression, which is characterized by pain, weakness and loss of motion;
  • spinal arachnoiditis, or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and causes stinging, burning pain and/or neurological problems; or
  • lumbar spinal stenosis with pseudoclaudication, meaning spinal stenosis in the lower back that causes pain or weakness through the legs and prevents normal walking.

 

Additionally, foraminal stenosis must be expected to last for 12 consecutive months in order to receive benefits.

These conditions should be documented by your physician and backed up by consistent test results proving your injury. If your condition causes pain, weakness and trouble walking, your medical condition likely will qualify you for Social Security benefits, provided you meet all other requirements. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is available to those with sufficient work history, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to low-income individuals.

Why hire an attorney?

An attorney can help you apply for the correct type of benefits. A disability attorney knows what type of documentation is needed and what type of questions the SSA will ask when considering your medical condition.

The attorneys at Rob Levine & Associates help people with foraminal stenosis apply for Social Security disability. If you are unsure if you qualify for benefits call 1-866-LAW-SSDI to set up a free consultation and speak with an attorney.

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