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What Dwight Howard can teach us about back injuries

After suffering a back impairment last season, Los Angeles Lakers veteran Dwight Howard said he returned to the court before he was completely healed, which is why he has struggled this season. Howard suffered a herniated disk in his lower back and had surgery last spring to repair it.

Following the surgery, Howard took a full six months off from basketball, missing the end of last year's season. Howard said he probably should have sat out for most of this season, but he said pressure to return to his team got him back on the court sooner than expected. Howard admitted that his body probably wasn't ready for his return, and that might have cost his team some games.

"I just wanted to get back and try to do whatever I can do to help this team, knowing that I was not in great shape. My body wasn't all the way there yet, but I just wanted to do whatever I can to help this team win," Howard said in an interview.

Professional athletes are not the only ones who suffer back or joint impairments. But like professional athletes, regular workers may feel pressure to return to their jobs before they are completely healed. Luckily, people who are forced to miss work because of these injuries may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to help ease this pressure.

SSD benefits may be available to people who suffer from severe and debilitating neck and back pain, including degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, a ruptured disc and compressed discs. In many cases, SSD benefits are a lifeline to people who suffer from these disabling injuries and cannot work.

Source: ESPN LA, "Dwight Howard reflects on injuries," Dave McMenamin, March 6, 2013

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