Workplace Neck and Back Injuries: What You Need to Know
Workplace neck and back injuries make it difficult for thousands of employees across Georgia.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported among Georgia’s private industry employers in 2019, resulting in an incidence rate of 2.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers.”
A significant percentage of these injuries are work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
When employees experience workplace neck and back injuries, they find themselves unable to work due to the pain.
If they can’t work, they can’t make money.
However, if their pain is the result of workplace neck and back injuries, they are entitled to workers’ compensation in Georgia.
Workers’ compensation benefits help cover costs for lost wages, medical treatment, and physical disability – all of which are possible for those who suffer workplace neck and back injuries.
Read on to learn even more things about workplace neck and back injuries.
#1 There Are Many Causes of Neck and Back Injuries
In addition to one-off accidents that result in workplace neck and back injuries, such as vehicle accidents, many daily activities cause neck and back pain.
- Impact with projectiles and falling objects
For instance, doctors often treat patients for back injuries that are the result of lifting heavy objects, as well as patients who have neck strain from staring at a computer screen for too long.
#2 You Can Experience Neck and Back Pain from Repetitive Tasks
Again, workplace neck and back injuries do not only occur in horrific accidents.
They typically are the result of daily, repetitive tasks.
Safety Management explains, “According to the U.S. Laboratory of Medicine, strains occur when a tendon or muscle is torn or stretched. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes this type of injury can happen, for example, when a worker performs repetitive tasks (e.g., lifts, pushes or pulls items that are heavy; works in a manner that results in awkward posture or reaches overhead).”
OSHA says the same is true for sprains.
#3 These Are the Most Common Types of Neck and Back Injuries
These are the most common types of neck and back injuries:
- Fractured vertebrae
- Herniated disks
- Pinched nerves
Neck and back injuries can also cause spinal cord injuries.
#4 There Are Often Long-Term Complications of Workplace Neck and Back Injuries
Unfortunately, many workplace neck and back injuries have long-term complications and even result in employees receiving permanent restrictions for workers’ compensation.
Long-term complications of a neck or back injury can include:
- Chronic pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Joint pain
- Reduced range of motion
If the employee’s neck or back injury also involves injury to the spinal cord, they may face more severe complications, such as:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Partial or total paralysis
- Impaired bladder and bowel control
- Blood clots
#5 X-Rays Are Not Always the Most Effective Choice
Part of what makes filing a workers’ compensation claim for workplace neck and back injuries difficult is that the pain is often invisible.
The employee is in pain, but there is often not any visible injury (unlike a broken bone or laceration).
This is why many doctors will request tests to reveal what is going on beneath the surface.
However, it is always better to have an MRI rather than an x-ray to identify these types of injuries. An x-ray may not reveal the cause of pain, especially if it involves a disk issue.
#6 The Doctor You Visit Plays a Huge Role in Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Again, workplace neck and back injuries are often invisible.
You may say you are in pain, and you may move as if you are in pain, but it is up to a doctor to diagnose you.
That’s why it is important to choose a doctor you trust to give the best medical advice and not rush you back to work.
Remember, while you must choose a doctor from your employer’s posted list of physicians, you still get to choose which one you’d like to see.
#7 Pain May Not Begin Right Away
Another one of the complications with filing a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia for neck and back injuries is that the pain is not always felt right away.
Say you fall at work. Your adrenaline kicks in, and you feel fine…at the moment.
Then, a few days later, you wake up unable to get out of bed.
Since there is a time limit on reporting accidents and filing claims, it is crucial to seek medical care as soon as possible after an injury at work. Even if you think you are fine.
Moreover, the sooner you receive medical care, the better your chances of recovery may be.
#8 Pain May Be Felt in Other Parts of the Body
Sometimes the pain from a neck or back injury isn’t felt in the neck or back.
Take a herniated disk, for example.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “If your herniated disk is in your lower back, you’ll typically feel the most pain in your buttocks, thigh and calf. You might have pain in part of the foot, as well. If your herniated disk is in your neck, you’ll typically feel the most pain in your shoulder and arm. This pain might shoot into your arm or leg when you cough, sneeze or move into certain positions.”
This is why it takes a good doctor to properly diagnose your condition.
#9 Back Injuries Cost Americans Billions Each Year
According to OSHA, over 600,000 employees suffer from back disorders each year, costing approximately $50 billion annually.
And, FMP Global reports, “The average claim for back pain against an employer will pay out between $40,000 and $80,000.”
#10 Back Pain Is the Second Most Common Reason Employees Miss Work
Back pain “accounts for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses.”
The number one reason people miss work is the common cold. The number two reason is back pain.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year—that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country.”
#11 Neck and Back Injuries Are Often Preventable
Neck and back injuries are often preventable.
OSHA provides clear guidance for recommended practices to avoid workplace injuries, including ergonomic solutions.
OSHA suggests, “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. In the workplace, the number and severity of MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) resulting from physical overexertion, and their associated costs, can be substantially reduced by applying ergonomic principles.”
#12 There Are Many Different Symptoms to Watch For
Beyond pain or stinging in one’s back or neck, workplace neck and back injuries may have the following symptoms:
- Limited mobility or can’t move
- Lost or limited ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Problems with breathing or coughing
- Bowel or bladder control is affected
- Sexual function is affected
#13 Neck and Back Injuries Also Affect Office Workers
It’s easy to think workplace neck and back injuries only occur in workplaces with physical laborers.
That isn’t true.
Even those who work in an office looking at a computer screen can suffer from workplace neck and back injuries.
#14 The Complication Is Usually Proving the Injury Is Work-Related
Unfortunately, the biggest fight with getting workers’ compensation benefits for neck and back injuries comes down to proving the injury is work-related.
Insurance companies will look for every reason to deny a claim.
Therefore, it is critical to tell your employer right away when you believe you have sustained an injury at work to get the paper trail started.
This is also one of the main reasons you should work with an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
#15 These Professions Experience the Most Workplace Neck and Back Injuries
While any profession can have its share of neck and back injuries, there are some careers where these types of injuries are more prevalent.
Dr. Tyndall tells Spine Universe, “Employees who perform physical labor such as construction, factory workers and healthcare workers are at increased risk for injuring their back on the job.”
#16 Back Pain Is the Leading Cause of Disability
TheAmerican Chiropractic Association reports, “Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability, preventing many people from engaging in work as well as other everyday activities.”
#17 There Is a Significant Connection between Back Pain and the Opioid Crisis
Lower back pain is the condition most often cited for opioid prescriptions.
With the ongoing opioid crisis, the American College of Physicians (ACP), now recommends avoiding opioids and trying more conservative approaches, such as spinal manipulation and massage.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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