What is a Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) Leak?

Cerebral Spinal Fluid is an often-underdiagnosed cause of headaches. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) soaks and supports the spinal cord and brain. The dura is connective tissue that hold the CSF together surrounding the spinal cord. When there is a tear or hole in the dura, the result is a leak of the CSF; this is also called intercranial hypotension.


CSF Leak Symptoms

The trademark symptom of a CSF leak is postural headaches, or headaches that increase in severity when sitting upright. Typically, the pain is decreased when laying flat. Other symptoms include: neck pain/stiffness, imbalance, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, pain in shoulder blades, arm discomfort, photosensitivity, hearing sensitivity, and impaired cognitive function.


CSF Leak Causes

CSF leaks are either caused spontaneously, by trauma, or by medical procedures. Often spontaneous CSF leaks have no clear cause and are the most likely to go undiagnosed. Spontaneous CSF leaks are commonly associated with: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), Marfan Syndrome, and some connective tissue disorders. In some cases, the bone spurs on the spine are the cause of the CSF leak. Additionally, Trauma like slip-and-falls and car accidents can lead to CSF leaks.  Another common cause of a CSF leak is medical treatment. Procedures such as: chiropractic manipulation, surgery, epidural spinal injections, spinal anesthesia, and lumbar punctures are also known causes of CSF leaks.


How to Obtain Benefits if You Have a CSF Leak

Unfortunately, since CSF leaks are so rare and underdiagnosed winning a Social Security Disability  (SSD) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case due to a CSF leak is not easy. Our firm has handled several CSF leak cases and all of them have been awarded benefits before an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing and were denied at the application and reconsideration stages.

The Social Security Blue Book is a list of impairments with comprehensive requirements for when a medical is deemed disabling. This Blue Book’s listing of impairments include the most common medical conditions thought to be severe enough to keep an individual from working on a continued full time. The Blue Book does not contain a CSF leak listing, but that does not make a CSF leak case unwinnable.

Here are the 4 most common ways to win an SSD and SSI case due to a CSF leak:

  1. Proving the individual will be off-task more than 10% of an 8-hour workday
  2. Proving the individual needs to lay down during the workday
  3. Proving the individual would miss 2 or more days of work per month due to CSF leaks
  4. Proving the individual would need extra breaks during an 8-hour work day to lay down

Watch our video to lean more.


If you or a loved one is suffering from a CSF leak and has questions about navigating the Social Security process we can help. Consider The Good Law Group for your representation – call (847) 577-4476.