One of the most common conditions that we see here is back pain.

Back pain can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common are arthritis, scoliosis, and degenerative disc disease. Whatever the cause, the effects of back pain on a person’s ability to work should not be underestimated.

A person’s back provides support for the whole body. Almost anything that a person does puts stress on the back. A person with back pain would have problems standing, since standing requires that the back hold up the upper body. Walking is even worse, since that means a person’s body is shifting around, putting even more stress on the back. They can’t do any heavy lifting, because the strain that lifting puts on the arm is felt in the back. Even sitting can be a problem, since even when you’re sitting you still need to hold your body up.

Back pain often occurs with other medical problems. For example, arthritis that affects the back might not be restricted only to the back; it might be causing problems in the rest of a person’s skeleton. Scoliosis can alter the structure of the ribs and shoulder and the length of arms and legs, which can affect breathing and balance. Depending on the cause of the back pain, the spinal cord (which runs through the back) might be affected, which would cause nerve-related issues such as numbness, pain, and weakness and loss of function in the extremities.

Back pain affects virtually every kind of work a person can do. Any work that requires lifting or excessive walking would be impossible to do. A job that requires standing will need accommodation, such as frequent breaks or a chair. Even a sit-down job can be unworkable if the back pain is affecting sitting. If you are over fifty, your work history is all physical labor, and your disabilities stop you from doing even moderate work, then Social Security will find you disabled because you are no longer able to do your past work or get training in another, less physical field. If your work history includes sedentary work, then it will also be necessary to prove that the back pain persists if you are sitting, and that the pain is severe enough to keep you from being able to work.

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