The back is one of the most common parts of the body to be injured on the job. Our backs and spines are complex, with bones, nerves and ligaments all working together. Injuries range from minor sprains to severe spinal cord injuries, and the causes of these injuries are limitless. Needless to say, it’s a broad category.
Workers who do heavy physical labor are clearly at risk for back injuries. What you might not realize is that those who sit at a desk all day, or do something in between the two extremes, also are at risk. Truck drivers are at risk because of the long hours they spend driving. Nurses are at risk because of the physical demands of moving patients or helping them in and out of bed. This is especially true in nursing homes. Factory workers or those on an assembly line can suffer injury over time after doing the same motions over and over. And anyone can injure themselves by lifting something heavy in the wrong way.
One of the most important things to know, from our perspective, is that when back pain or injury is caused by your job, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits to pay for treatment and lost wages. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if your injury is your fault. Workers’ compensation covers injuries caused by the job, regardless of fault.
Your first priority, however, should be your health. See your doctor right away. There are different types of back pain, from the upper part of the spine all they way to the lower back. Low back pain can radiate into the legs, as well. Common causes of back pain include muscle or ligament sprain, herniated disks, and disk disease. These can be the result of a sudden trauma, such as a fall or from lifting something heavy, or from immobility or repetitive motion. Even if you can’t pinpoint the cause, it’s still important to see a doctor.
Treatments for back injuries vary depending on the injury involved. Your doctor might order an MRI or do other tests in order to diagnose your particular problem. Treatments can include physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery. All reasonable treatment should be covered 100% by workers’ compensation, with no out-of-pocket costs to you.
When you see your doctor, be sure to explain exactly what you do at work. The reason you want to be clear with your doctor about what you are doing at work every day is because other factors can be blamed for your pain. Obesity, for example, is a common cause of back pain. Unless you can show that your job was the cause or at least a contributor to you back pain, the insurance company can try to deny you benefits.
If you have back pain, see your doctor as soon as possible and be sure to explain all of your job duties so that he or she can determine the cause of your pain. Next, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your options. This is especially important if your injury is severe, if you are unlikely to recover, or if your claim has been denied by the insurance company.