A back injury is one of the most common workplace injuries and can also be one of the most serious. Many times, a single accident or event, such as lifting a heavy box, will result in back injury. Work requiring repetitive motions (bending or lifting) may also cause back injuries. At times, workers may aggravate a pre-existing back condition by work activities or an accident.
What are the symptoms of a back injury?
Back pain, leg pain, muscle weakness, numbness in the legs or feet, and a disturbance of bowel or bladder function are all symptoms of a back injury.
What causes back pain?
The back is a very complex structure, with a delicate spinal cord encased within bones arranged around it like building blocks. Between these blocks are discs, which have a tough outer casing and a jelly-like center. In some injuries, the casing of the disc can split, allowing the center to ooze out. If the disc presses on an adjacent nerve root, it can cause pain along the distribution of that nerve root. Pain may occur when small joints at the rear of the spinal cord are injured. Irritated muscles may go into painful spasms.
What can be done about back pain?
Most back injuries resolve through conservative treatment. This treatment may include rest, medications, physical therapy, and injections. Unfortunately, surgical intervention is sometimes necessary. To relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, surgeons can remove portions of bone to widen the narrowed area in the spine. Removing the jelly-like material of a ruptured disc may help relieve pressure on pinched nerves.
Sometimes the entire disc must be removed and the adjoining vertebrae fused together surgically. The discs in the spine allow for movement of the spine and allow people to bend and rotate their necks and backs. Fusion is a surgical technique in which one or more of the vertebrae of the spine are fused together so that motion no longer occurs between them. A surgeon may recommend a fusion to treat a broken vertebrae, eliminate pain from motion, treat instability, or treat a herniation.
Recovery and return to a normal active lifestyle after a fusion is generally longer than for other types of spinal surgery. The length of time a worker may be off work following a fusion will depend on the individual healing process and the worker’s job.
Disc replacement is similar to other types of joint replacement. The concept is that a surgeon removes the damaged joint and replaces it with a metal and plastic implant. In the spine, the goal is to remove the damaged, painful disc and replace it with a metal and plastic disc that moves like a normal disc. Theoretically, a disc replacement has advantages over a fusion because it still allows for motion at the damaged level.
Klezmer Maudlin is proud to offer free telephone and email consultations. If you need assistance with a work-related back injury or are not receiving the benefits you deserve, call or email us for a free case evaluation. We will investigate the circumstances surrounding your back injury to determine the cause and identify all liable parties. Our attorneys are known for their thorough preparation and dedication to their clients’ cases.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you can rely on the accomplished Indiana workers’ compensation attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin.