If you have back pains while on the job, you are not alone: A 2015 study found that nearly 40 million American workers suffer from chronic back pain. That is more than a quarter of the workforce reporting back pain severe enough to affect their ability to work. I can tell you as an Illinois work comp attorney with over 22 years of experience, it’s the most common call that I get.
The back is actually a very complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles so it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear such an extreme number of reported back pain. One can easily sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks and irritate joints, all leading to back pain.
Although this is a commonly shared condition, the type of back pain experienced by each person varies widely. The lower back is the most common area affected, which has a lot to do with how our bodies move and work.
Some of the more common low back problems that arise are:
- Lumbar disc herniation (spinal disc extrudes and places pressure on a nerve root)
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae)
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back)
- Lumbar subluxation (a term describing an altered position of the vertebra in the low back causing functional loss)
What you may not know is these common lower back problems are also the most common causes to sciatica. The term sciatica is often times used incorrectly to explain leg pain, low back pain and other sciatica symptoms. Contrary to what many believe, sciatica is actually a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is causing pain.
The sciatic nerve runs from the feet, through the legs, buttocks and to the back of the pelvis. When this nerve becomes compressed or irritated you get sciatica. Common symptoms include pain, tingling and/or numbness around the lower back, buttocks and down the lower legs and feet. A patient may also experience muscle weakness or spasms, difficulty walking, standing from a seated position, and difficulty bending or raising one leg.
Living with sciatica can be quite difficult. The immense pain the problem brings along can hamper movement and affect daily life. Approximately five percent of people with back pain have sciatica and it is commonly found in Workers Compensation Claims.
Many injuries that cause sciatica occur due to a singular, traumatic accident or they may develop over time, with repeated pressure placed on the spine. Workers at a higher risk are in occupations that require them to lift heavy objects, turn in awkward positions, stand or sit for extended periods or repeatedly bend at the waist.
Whether it’s us or another law firm, if you have sciatica or another back problem, we highly recommend that you get an experienced lawyer in your corner that has a history with these cases and really understands the medicine behind it. If you’d like to talk to one of our lawyers for free, call us any time at 312-346-5320. We cover all of Illinois.