What causes a lumbar herniated disc in the workers compensation context. How is a disc herniation in the low back work-related? This is important to the injured or aging worker with low back pain. A herniated disc can be disabling, taking someone away from their livelihood. If we can prove its work related, there can be workers comp benefits to pay medical bills, and help with wage loss through disability benefits, and for future loss of earning capacity and/or retraining benefits.

Herniation occurs when the nucleus in the center of the disc pushes out of its normal space. The nucleus presses against the annulus, causing the disc to bulge outward. Sometimes the nucleus herniates completely through the annulus and squeezes out of the disc.

Although daily activities may cause the nucleus to press against the annulus, the body is normally able to withstand this pressure. However, as the annulus ages, it tends to crack and tear. It is repaired with scar tissue. This process is known as degeneration. Over time, the annulus weakens, and the nucleus may begin to herniate (squeeze) through the damaged annulus. At first, the pressure bulges the annulus outward. Eventually, the nucleus may herniate completely through the outer ring of the disc.

Vigorous, repetitive bending, twisting, and lifting can place abnormal pressure on the shock-absorbing nucleus of the disc. If great enough, this increased pressure can injure the annulus, leading to herniation. This is why so often people in physical jobs experience herniated disc symptoms at work, on the job.

A lumbar disc can also become herniated during an acute (sudden) injury. Lifting with the trunk bent forward and twisted can cause a disc herniation. A disc can also herniate from a heavy impact on the spine, such as falling from a ladder and landing in a sitting position.

Herniation causes pain from a variety of sources. It can cause mechanical pain. This is pain that comes from the parts of the spine that move during activity, such as the discs and ligaments. Pain from inflammation occurs when the nucleus squeezes through the annulus. The nucleus normally does not come in contact with the body’s blood supply. However, a tear in the annulus puts the nucleus at risk for contacting this blood supply. When the nucleus herniates into the torn annulus, the nucleus and blood supply meet, causing a reaction of the chemicals inside the nucleus. This produces inflammation and pain. A disc herniation may also put pressure against a spinal nerve. Pressure on an irritated or damaged nerve can produce pain that radiates along the nerve. This is called neurogenic pain.

At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.