One of the more complicated work-related injuries that a New Jersey worker can experience is the aggravation or wear and tear of a spinal condition known as spondylosis. These cases are complex because the condition of spondylosis can be caused by other things outside of the work environment. But spondylosis that is caused by conditions outside the work environment can also be aggravated by work events, thus making it a potentially valid New Jersey workers’ comp case. This piece will discuss the condition of spondylosis and how it can be covered by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company.
With difficult workers’ comp cases that are tough to win, having the right law firm on your side means a lot. Wear and tear injuries of pre-existing conditions are no exception. You need to have a law firm fighting for your rights.
What Is Spondylosis?
The condition of spondylosis is diagnosed when there is age-related degeneration in the spine. The degeneration process—often due to age—is among the causes of spondylosis.
There are three joints between each vertebra of your spine. The front of the vertebra joint is called the intervertebral disc. The two back vertebra joints are called facet joints. The cartilage that makes up the joints provide flexibility, protection, and cushion to your spinal vertebrae. All of this is held together by ligaments and tendons.
As we age, these joints and structures change. They can weaken, become cracked, dry out, thicken, or just wear out. These changes aren’t caused by something specific, but by everyday life, your movement over the years, and the aging process.
These various conditions and symptoms are contained in the catch-all diagnosis of spondylosis.
Symptoms of Spondylosis
The main spondylosis symptoms are pain and stiffness in different areas of your spine. For example, if you have spondylosis in a few vertebrae in your thoracic spine, you may have pain in stiffness in the middle of your back or around your spine that’s between your shoulder blades. If it’s in your cervical spine or neck, then you may have pain and stiffness every time you turn your head or after sitting still for a long time. Some people can experience other symptoms with this condition:
- Numbness in the arms, hands, legs, and feet
- Tingling in the fingers and toes
- Weakness in the muscles of the arms, shoulders, legs, feet, and hands; and
- Difficulty walking, coordination issues, or keeping balance.
- To diagnose this condition, your doctor may have you undergo various diagnostic tests, including x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans.
Treatment of Spondylosis
The treatment for this condition varies. With most spondylosis conditions, surgery is not necessary. Here are some common treatment options:
- Restriction of movement to rest the area where symptoms occur
- Medications for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or non-narcotics
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections or cervical facet joint injections; and
- For significant cases, surgery.
Although surgery is rare, it could be necessary in some cases depending on the cause of the spinal cord compression.
Why Are Workers’ Comp Cases Involving Spondylosis Difficult?
The main reason these cases are difficult is that the condition of spondylosis occurs over time, with age. You won’t wake up one morning, and all of a sudden have degenerative changes to your spine. So, if it’s caused by age and over time, how can the condition be related to a work incident? In other words, what are the risk factors of spondylosis that are linked to work?
A skilled New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer will be able to demonstrate the relationship to the work-related spondylosis symptoms causing disability and the work incident.
In some wear and tear cases—such as someone with spondylosis—the person’s work activity is such that they are constantly bending and twisting their spine, eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, week after week. This type of activity can cause degeneration of the spine.
In other cases, spondylosis is present, but there are no symptoms. The employee isn’t feeling any pain, stiffness, or weakness at all. But then a work incident occurs, such as a lifting incident or a slip and fall, and suddenly there’s pain in the lower back and down a leg. This type of case could be work-related and a valid workers’ comp case because the previously asymptomatic spondylosis was aggravated to a point where it became disabling. Under the law, a work-related aggravation of a pre-existing condition is still considered a valid work injury.
Trust Petro Cohen for Your WEAR and TEAR Claim
Petro Cohen, P.C. has assisted injured workers in South Jersey for decades with an emphasis on WEAR and TEAR™, or repetitive stress injuries. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head and Senior Partner Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola, and Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.