Suffering a back injury at work is a painful experience, both physically and emotionally. And unfortunately, it’s an increasingly common trauma in today’s workplace environments. According to health website The Good Body, more than “one million back injuries are sustained in the workplace annually.” And what’s more: these back injuries can have devastating long-term effects. Not only is back injury the top cause of ‘job-related disability,’ but it’s estimated that for “5% of back injury sufferers, the condition will become chronic and disabling.”
For these reasons and more, it’s important to educate yourself on how to manage a back injury from both a physical and legal standpoint to maximize your chances of recovery, as well as compensation for your pain and suffering. Read on to learn more about common back injuries in the workplace, prepare yourself so you know what to do after a back injury at work, and get helpful information about workers compensation for back injury
It’s true that no two workplace back injuries are exactly alike; everyone’s experience is uniquely different. However, there are a few injuries that are found to be the most common causes and manifestations of an injured back at work.
In terms of causation, many workplace back injuries are caused by heavy lifting, which is why it’s imperative that companies provide their employees with foundational training on safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques. But, even with proper training and education, back injuries caused by lifting and carrying heavy or awkward objects still happen. And these injuries can be significant, sometimes even leading to lifelong health problems. Here are some of the most common back injuries caused in the workplace.
Back strains are some of the most common injuries suffered in the workplace. Back strains are characterized by an injury to a muscle or a tendon, typically with the muscles and tendons that support the spine becoming twisted, pulled, or torn.
According to health provider Cleveland Clinic, strains can be caused by a singular instance of improper lifting or other motion that overstresses the back muscles, or they can be developed overtime from “from overuse after prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons.”
Back strains are incredibly common injuries, and in most cases they can be remedied and treated with a combination of rest, compression, applying ice, and light stretching. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs are often recommended to reduce swelling. Any strain that lasts over 2 weeks should be spoken about to a medical professional.
A sprain is similar to a strain in that it also is marked stretching or tearing, but it affects ligaments (while strains affect muscles or tendons). Ligaments are “fibrous bands of tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint and prevent excessive movement of the joint,” as explained by Cleveland Clinic
A back sprain often happens after a fall or sudden motion (like a twist), or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position, all of which can overstretch ligaments and cause sprain.
Like strains, sprains are typically treated with a combination of rest, compresion, ice, stretching, and antiinflammatory drugs.
The most severe of these three back injuries is a herniated disk, which is an injury of the spine. Disks are round “cushions” that exist between the individual vertebrae of the spine. When one of these disks malfunctions, it’s referred to as a herniated disk.
Herniated disks can manifest in three ways: slipped, ruptured, or bulging. Lifting heavy objects is a common cause of disk herniation, as well as sitting for long periods of time, sudden strain (from lifting or twisting), repetitive twisting motion, repetitive lifting motion, and being overweight
Herniated disks can heal on their own or with simple solutions like antiinflammatory drugs and rest, but sometimes more intensive treatment is required, including physical therapy, spinal injections, and, in severe cases, surgery. It’s important to treat herniated disks with care, and in a timely manner, as long term symptoms like sciatica, chronic pain, and numbness in legs and feet are possible
The rarest and most debilitating type of back injury is a spinal cord injury. A spinal cord injury is defined as “damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina), which often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Spinal cord injuries are caused by damage to the vertebrae, disks, or ligaments of the spine, or in the case of traumatic spinal cord injuries, a significant, sudden blow to the spine that dislocates, compresses, or fractures one or more vertebrae. Traumatic spinal cord injuries can cause loss of feeling or paralysis. It’s rare to be injured to such a high caliber as to suffer a spinal cord injury at work, but these instances do happen.
If you’ve experienced a back injury at work, whether it’s a sprain, strain, or herniated disk, there are a few steps you should take. Here is a recommended action plan for what to do after a back injury.
When it comes to how much compensation for a back injury at work, since all back injuries have varying levels of severity and long-term impact, there is no set number that you can expect to be paid. The amount of compensation you receive from a back injury at work depends on a number of things, such as the amount of time you are expecting to be unable to work because of the injury, the cost of medical care necessary to treat your back injury, and any permanent impairments, just to name a few.
However, to give a few benchmarks according to the National Safety Council, the nationwide average workers’ compensation cost associated with an upper back injury was “just over $32,000,” while the nationwide average workers’ comp payout for a lower back injury was $36,608.
Regardless of your injury or your expectations for the outcome of your case, hiring an attorney who specializes in back injuries can help you receive the most compensation for your back injury at work.
Dealing with a workplace back injury is challenging and can be emotionally draining. For those reasons, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney who is specifically trained to deal with spinal cord injury cases to help with the process and put your mind at ease.
If you have experienced a back injury at work and need some help, set up a free consultation with Ruiz Law today to get started on your case. You won’t pay anything unless Ruiz wins the case, so there’s nothing to lose – contact us today!
*The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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