People suffering from spinal AVM can find it difficult to work because this disorder can cause problems with walking, numbness, or weakness on either one side of the body or both sides. When it’s difficult to walk and move around, many people with a variety of types of jobs might find that they can no longer effectively work. They might even find that safety issues make working impossible. For instance, someone who works in construction or in a factory might not be able to risk climbing heights. Some people with spinal AVM might need to get SSDI benefits to continue to pay their bills.
What is Spinal AVM?
A spinal arteriovenous malformation (spinal AVM) is essentially a bundle of blood vessels near or on the spinal cord that are collected in a tangled fashion. This bundle of blood vessels can cause a variety of symptoms as they impede on the central nervous system’s ability to send messages through the spinal cord. Otherwise, someone can also have a spinal AVM for years and never know it because it doesn’t disrupt any of the bodily processes.
When someone has an arteriovenous malformation, they have a tangle of blood vessels, but the capillaries that are supposed to be delivering blood and the oxygen that blood contains to the other areas of the spine don’t exist or are non-functional. Instead, blood goes from the arteries to the veins, bypassing capillaries. If someone goes too long without some type of medical intervention, they can have permanent damage from their spine not receiving the oxygen that it needs.
People who are going to experience symptoms usually begin experiencing them in their 20s. But many cases of spinal AVM are actually diagnosed before the person is even 16 years old. People are usually born with spinal AVM, and there isn’t much an expecting mother can do to lessen the chance that her baby will be born with spinal AVM.
The condition is also diagnosed equally in men and women. If spinal AVM goes untreated for an extended period of time, the symptoms and damage might be permanent, but quick treatment can slow or halt the progression of the damage.
Symptoms of Spinal AVM
Some of the most common symptoms of spinal AVM include numbness, pain, and tingling in the legs. Some people might also experience weakness on either one side of the body or both sides. And because of the weakness, people with this condition can also have difficulties walking up stairs.
As the condition progresses without treatment, back pain that’s sudden and severe becomes more common. Some people might also get headaches and have sensitivity to light. A stiff neck is also common. The pain, tingling, and numbness in the legs might also turn into a complete lack of feeling in more severe cases. Some people who go untreated might also get damage that’s so bad that they have difficulties with bowel movements and urination.
Since spinal AVM reduces or completely blocks off blood flow to a certain part of the spine, people with spinal AVM might also develop a spinal column deformity as the lack of oxygen damages the spine and surrounding tissues. The blood vessels can also bulge or even hemorrhage, causing further damage to the spinal cord. High blood pressure in the area is also common and can cause fluid buildup in the surrounding tissues.
These symptoms can become debilitating or even life-threatening if they continually go untreated. But for people who receive the necessary treatments, many of the symptoms can be halted or even reversed.
Treatments for Spinal AVM
In order to choose a treatment plan, the physician will look at a person’s medical history and the spinal AVM to figure out what will be effective and the safest treatment plan for the patient. First, though, they need to diagnose that the symptoms stem from a spinal AVM. To do this, doctors can use an MRI or an angiography.
Once a patient has received the diagnosis of spinal AVM, there are a couple of ways that some of the symptoms can be alleviated. For instance, a doctor can prescribe medication to reduce symptoms. But in order to have long-term results and halt the progression of the damage to the spinal cord, treatment that will address the underlying cause of the symptoms must be given.
One possible way to treat the patient is to use a procedure called endovascular embolization. In this treatment, a catheter is sent into the veins, where a material that acts like glue is sent to the vessels to seal them off. This particular procedure is effective in many cases, but it might not be the right option for everyone.
Another type of procedure that’s sometimes used is radiation therapy, which can be used to destroy abnormal blood vessels that are causing problems.
Surgery is a final option that might be necessary in some cases although it’s often not the first choice of treatment if there’s another non-surgical option available. If they determine that surgery is necessary, the surgeon will use small and precise instruments to remove the abnormal blood vessels that are blocking blood flow.
Disability Benefits for Spinal AVM
For people who are searching for disability benefits for spinal AVM, SSDI benefits might be the best option. One time that it might be necessary to apply for benefits is after an AVM ruptures. Otherwise, a person might need benefits if there isn’t an effective treatment plan available for their particular case or if the procedures that they’ve tried have failed.
In order to qualify for benefits, the person must demonstrate that the symptoms are severe enough that they affect their ability to work. While spinal AVM isn’t specifically listed in the Blue Book, the complications and symptoms associated with AVM can qualify a person.
One complication of spinal AVM that could qualify a person for disability benefits is paralysis caused by the condition. If the malformation ruptures, this can cause other serious consequences that could make it impossible to work, or the complications can even be life threatening.
Another complication of a ruptured spinal AVM is stroke, which can be debilitating for years or even the rest of the person’s life. And although spinal AVM isn’t listed in the Blue Book, seizures are listed, and applicants who are experiencing them because of their spinal AVM can make a claim based on seizures.
If a person doesn’t meet the requirements for any listed condition in the SSA Blue Book, they can also try to make a claim based on residual functional capacity test, which assesses a person’s ability to complete work that they’ve done in the past.
Regardless of whether a person applies for benefits based on a condition listed in the Blue Book or makes a claim based on the residual functional capacity test, thorough documentation of symptoms, doctors appointment, and the affect that the symptoms have on work life is necessary.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Spinal AVM, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.