The most important thing you can do if you are injured while working in Illinois is to get immediate medical care. Nobody could convince me that anything else is more important than that. Nothing matters more than your health.
We could debate what’s most important to do after you’ve first gone to the doctor, but to me that depends on what the emergency room or initial doctor says.
One problem I’ve noticed lately is that insurance companies are trying to limit medical treatment based on what the original doctor says. Usually this is done by them telling an injured worker something to the effect of, “Your x-rays were normal, so you are going to be fine.”
Now I’m not a doctor and would never give medical advice. That said, you don’t have to be a doctor to know that x-rays have really limited value. They show broken bones of course and can reveal some other ailments.
But x-rays aren’t going to show a torn rotator cuff. They won’t reveal that you have a herniated disc in your neck or back. They can’t show that you have a torn ligament in your elbow or hand. They can’t show a concussion. They can’t show carpal tunnel. They won’t let us know if you tore your ACL or meniscus.
I could go on, but you get the point. X-rays have some value, certainly for showing broken bones, but they are not the be all end all and don’t reveal when you have suffered from the most serious of work injuries.
So to me, the most important thing you should do after you’ve gone to the doctor is go again if you aren’t feeling better. Assuming that you are fine because an x-ray is normal is a huge mistake.
In these situations we recommend that you get a referral to a doctor who specializes in the problem you are having. This usually means seeing an orthopedic doctor or neurologist. Almost every family physician we know can make a good recommendation and it’s not a bad idea to ask for a couple of names so you can research who is best for you. Some orthopedic doctors only handle certain body parts for example.
The real trouble, health wise, starts when you wait too long in between that first and second visit. If your body is telling you that there is a problem and a x-ray says you are fine, listen to your body. Because while the x-ray isn’t worthless, it almost never tells the whole story.