I live in Boston and have had to stop working because of the disabling effects of degenerative disk disease. I’ve heard that back surgery is not always helpful. How can I know if surgery is right for me?

In most cases, back surgery is not recommended for your condition. Many times degenerative disk disease can be treated nonsurgically. Treatments include medications, heat and cold therapy, and physical therapy. But, since you say you are unable to work, you have probably already tried these things.

Mayo Clinic suggests that back surgery may be indicated if:

  • Your disks are bulging and causing pain (not all do).
  • You have a herniated disk, which can sometimes be repaired.
  • You’ve had an injury to your spine, such as a fracture, that makes your spine unstable.
  • Osteoporosis has damaged your spine.
  • Your condition is compressing the spinal nerves and your leg is severely numb and/or painful.
  • You’ve tried everything else and nothing has helped.

If you and your doctor do decide to move forward with surgical intervention, several types are available. The most common types do one of the following:

  • Remove bone portions to widen the spinal area.
  • Remove gel in ruptured disks, in an attempt to relieve pain and nerve pressure.
  • Remove a whole disk and fuse vertebrae together.

If you have considered applying for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits and would like a free consultation on your case, please contact our Boston disability specialists at Keefe Disability Law. Simply fill out the confidential contact form on this page, or call us toll free at 888-904-6847.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer