If you are suffering from back pain and are considering filing a claim for Social Security Disability, it will help to know how the Social Security Administration evaluates back pain. For a discussion of the disability process look here.
Back pain can be in the cervical (top), thoracic (middle) or lumbar (lower) part of your spine. Your back pain may start after an injury or it may start without an injury. Cervical pain can cause numbness in your hands and arms. Lumbar pain can radiate from your low back all the way to your feet. Sciatica or loss of urinary function can occur. This pain can affect your ability to walk, sit, dress, bathe and even stand. For most people with back pain, the treatment options are: pain medications, physical therapy; steroid injections; electrical nerve stimulation and ultimately surgery.
Please note that as of April 2, 2021, Listing 1.04 no longer exists and has been replaced with the Listings found here: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/1.00-Musculoskeletal-Adult.htm. After we receive additional guidance from SSA we will alter this post to accommodate for the new listing.
There is a Social Security Disability listing specifically for back pain, 1.04 Disorders of the Spine. In order to meet this listing you must have medical testing (evidence) that demonstrates the cause of your back problems (e.g. MRIs, X-Rays etc). This medical evidence must show that your back condition has resulted in compromise of a nerve root or the spinal cord. In addition to diagnostic testing, your back problems must also cause you to have the symptoms discussed in the listings (some examples: the inability to ambulate effectively; positive straight leg raising (sitting and supine).
Chances are, you will be unable to work long before you meet this listing. Do not worry about meeting this or any other listing. If you are following your doctors advise but your back pain still prevents you from working, you should file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible.