Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle. When I hear that a client experienced a severe break from a simple fall, I always ask if they have been evaluated for osteoporosis. A person experiencing severe back pain, arm pain, leg pain, loss of height, and/or stooped posture can also be showing signs of osteoporosis. Sometimes the damaging effects of osteoporosis cause fractures not to heal properly which result in a nonunion of the fracture site. This can cause the individual to have great difficulty walking, standing or sitting for prolong periods of time. When an individual cannot sit or stand for prolong periods of time, without a rest, break or a need to lie down, it becomes disabling. This is because that individual does not have the ability to complete an eight (8) hour work day while completing the task that he/she has been assigned. In addition, employers usually do not let the worker elevate the legs above waist level or lie down in the work environment.
In addition, the pain that is experienced with this condition can be disabling in and of itself. Everyone experiences pain differently. Some individuals will describe a constant ache similar to a throbbing tooth ache, which interferes with their ability to complete simple tasks. Others will describe the pain as coming and going, but not knowing how severe the pain will be at any given time. I often hear that there are good days and bad days and the bad days are what stops them from working. The bad days can be the result of cold or damp weather or on the other hand, hot and humid weather. Some people will have bad days because they try to do too much on their good days. Simple activities can cause pain, stiffness, and/or swelling. The medications will usually “take the edge off” and the patient’s find different ways to cope with their pain. During periods of flare ups, (bad days) there are many times where the patient’s will need to use a cane, crutch, crutches, and/or a walker to be able to stand or walk.
For those that are suffering upper body symptoms, the pain, stiffness and swelling can interfere with the person’s abilities to use their arms and hands. I often hear that it is very difficult to button buttons, tie shoes or simply to pick up and grasp a gallon of milk. It is very difficult to be able to do anything requiring the hands and arms for a prolonged period of time, however, the individual may be able to complete a small task.
In these types of claims it is important to evaluate the intensity and persistence of the pain, swelling, and stiffness. It is also important to understand all of the things that the person does to help cope with the pain. These may be things such as lying down throughout the day, heating pads, ice packs, hot showers, cold showers, aqua therapy, and/or physical therapy. The impact and effect of medications must also be carefully evaluated. Attorney Fink and her staff carefully evaluate these claims to present to the Social Security Administration.
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.