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The Path of A Back Injury at Work

The Path of A Back Injury at Work

What Should You Do If You Hurt Your Back at Work?

If you hurt your back at work take the right steps to take care of yourself. Here’s what you should do:

1. Tell Someone: Let your supervisor or manager know about your injury as soon as possible. They’ll fill out an incident report about what happened. We handle too many cases that have to go to court because an accident wasn’t reported timely. Report your accident quickly so you have a better chance of getting your benefits started.

2. Get Medical Help: If your back injury is severe or you’re in a lot of pain, seek medical attention right away. You can ask your supervisor or co-worker to take you to the emergency room or urgent care.

3. See a Doctor: It’s important to see a healthcare professional, like a doctor or chiropractor, who can assess your injury properly. They will be able to diagnose the extent of the injury and recommend the right treatment plan for your specific situation. Keep in mind, though, that not all doctors take workers’ compensation cases. You also have to get your doctor appointment pre-authorized by your employer or they may not have to pay for it – you will!

4. Keep Records: Keep a record of the incident, including the date, time, and how the injury occurred and who you reported it to. It’s helpful for future reference, especially if you need to discuss the injury or file a workers’ compensation claim. Keep a log of every time you go to a doctors’ appointment because the workers’ comp laws make your employer or its insurance company reimburse you for the travel.

5. Follow the Treatment Plan: Stick to the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare professional. This might involve rest, doing specific exercises, taking prescribed medications, or attending physical therapy sessions. Following their advice will help you recover faster.

6. Call attorney Craig Mitchell or attorney at Kiana Mitchell at Mitchell & Associates. The workers’ compensation companies like Sedgwick, Walmart Claims, Broadspire Services, Gallagher Bassett Services, York Risk Service Group, Corvel Corporation, ESIS, Genex and CCMSI all have teams of adjusters, nurse case managers, investigators, doctors and attorneys to scrutinize your claim and deny you benefits. Our team at Mitchell & Associates was designed to stop them.

How Do People Hurt Their Back While Working?

Back injuries at work can happen many ways. Here are some common causes:

1. Heavy Lifting: Lifting stuff that’s too heavy or not using the right lifting techniques can strain your back muscles and lead to injuries.

2. Awkward Postures: Imagine working in positions that make your back bend, twist, or reach in weird ways for a long time. That can put a lot of stress on your back and increase the chances of getting injured. Many people will hear a “pop” in their back. Sometimes the pain starts right away, and sometimes it takes a day or two.

3. Overexertion: Pushing yourself too hard physically, like doing tasks that are way beyond your capabilities or strength can take a toll on your back.

4. Slip, Trips, and Falls: accidents like slips, trips, and falls in the workplace can lead to sudden movements or impacts on your back, which can result in injuries.

5. Workplace Hazards: If your work environment has hazards like uneven floors, poor lighting, or obstacles in your way, they can increase the chances of accidents and, you guessed it, back injuries.

What is the Point of Physical Therapy After You Hurt Your Back at Work?

When you hurt your back on the job, physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process.

The purpose of physical therapy is to help alleviate pain, restore function, and promote healing in your back. Here are some key reasons why physical therapy can help back injuries:

1. Pain Relief: Physical therapists can use various techniques such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to help reduce pain and inflammation in your back. They may also teach you specific exercises to alleviate pain and promote healing.

2. Restoring Mobility and Flexibility: Back injuries can lead to stiffness and limited movement. Physical therapists can design customized exercise programs that target specific muscle groups, improving flexibility, range of motion, and overall mobility. These exercises may include stretching, strengthening, and gentle movements.

3. Core Strengthening: Your core muscles, including those in your abdomen and lower back, provide essential support to your spine. Physical therapists can guide you through exercises that strengthen these muscles, improving stability and reducing the risk of future injuries.

4. Posture Correction: Poor posture can contribute to back pain or exacerbate existing injuries. Physical therapists can assess your posture and provide guidance on correct alignment and body mechanics during everyday activities. They may teach you exercises and techniques to improve posture and reduce strain on your back.

5. Education and Prevention: Physical therapists can educate you about your back condition, teaching you strategies to manage pain and prevent future injuries. They may provide guidance on proper body mechanics, lifting techniques, ergonomics, and lifestyle modifications to support a healthy back.

Physical therapy programs are tailored to individual needs, so your experience may vary based on your specific injury and overall health. Working closely with a physical therapist can significantly improve your recovery and help you regain strength and function in your back.

What Happens if Physical Therapy For Your Back Doesn’t Work?

After you’ve been hurt while working, there can many reasons why physical therapy for your back doesn’t help. It’s important to remember that every person and injury is unique, and not all treatment approaches work the same for everyone. If you’re not getting better it may be for one of these reasons:

1. You Haven’t Treated Enough Time: Recovery from back injuries can take time, and improvement may not be immediate. If you haven’t given enough time for the therapy to take effect, it’s worth discussing your concerns with the physical therapist and determining if more sessions or a modified approach may be beneficial.

2. Severity of Injury: The nature and severity of your back injury can impact the effectiveness of physical therapy. In some cases, more intensive or specialized interventions may be necessary, such as additional diagnostic tests, pain management techniques, or consultations with other healthcare professionals, like orthopedic specialists or pain management specialists. Under the Louisiana workers’ compensation system you have to submit a choice of physician fomr to the adjuster before you can get evaluated.

3. Underlying Conditions: There could be underlying conditions or factors contributing to your back pain that may require further evaluation and treatment. It’s possible that your physical therapist may recommend consulting with a physician to explore other diagnostic possibilities or additional treatment options.

4. Individual Variability: Each person’s response to treatment can vary. Sometimes, despite following a prescribed physical therapy regimen, an individual may not experience the expected improvements. In such cases, the physical therapist might need to reassess the treatment plan, modify the exercises, or explore alternative techniques to address your specific needs.

What Procedure Might My Doctor Try If Physical Therapy For My Back Doesn’t Work?

If physical therapy for your back doesn’t work there are several more steps your doctor can take. The specific approach will depend on your individual condition, the what is already causing your back pain, and the recommendations of your healthcare provider. Here are a few possible options:

1. Imaging and Diagnostic Tests: If the cause of your back pain is unclear or hasn’t been fully identified, your doctor may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. These tests can provide detailed information about the structures in your back, helping to identify any abnormalities or specific conditions that may require different treatment approaches.

2. Medications: Depending on the nature and severity of your back pain, your doctor may prescribe medications to manage pain, reduce inflammation, or relax muscles. This could include over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or, in some cases, stronger pain medications if necessary.

3. Injections: Your doctor may suggest injections to provide targeted pain relief and reduce inflammation. This could involve corticosteroid injections, which are anti-inflammatory medications, or nerve block injections that temporarily block pain signals.

4. Minimally Invasive Procedures: If conservative measures haven’t been successful, your doctor might recommend minimally invasive procedures. These can include techniques such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), where heat is used to interrupt pain signals from specific nerves, or spinal cord stimulation, where electrical impulses are delivered to the spinal cord to mask or reduce pain.

5. Surgical Intervention: In cases where conservative treatments and less invasive procedures haven’t provided relief, surgery may be considered. Surgery aims to address specific structural issues causing your back pain, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or spinal instability. The type of surgical procedure will depend on your diagnosis and the recommendations of a qualified surgeon.

What Are Epidural Steroid Injections?

Doctors use epidural steroid injections (ESIs) to help with pain and inflammation in certain parts of the body, like the back, sciatica, or herniated discs.

During an ESI, the doctor injects a mix of numbing medication (local anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory medication (corticosteroid) into the epidural space near the spinal cord and nerves. This space is between the protective covering of the spinal cord and the bony vertebrae.

The local anesthetic numbs the area right away, giving immediate relief, while the corticosteroid helps reduce inflammation in the long run, which can help ease the pain. They’re pretty careful with the injection, making sure it goes exactly where it’s needed.

ESIs are done with the guidance of X-rays to make sure the needle is in the right spot. And the best part is that it’s usually done as an outpatient procedure, so you don’t have to stay overnight in the hospital.

Now, it’s important to know that while ESIs can be helpful in relieving pain, they’re not a permanent fix. Different people may have different experiences with the injections, and sometimes more injections might be needed later on.

If you have any specific worries or questions about epidural steroid injections, make sure to ask your doctor. It’s always a good idea to talk things through and get the information you need.

What Are Radio Frequency Ablations?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure used to treat certain types of chronic pain. It is often used for conditions like arthritis, back pain, and joint pain.

During an RFA procedure, a doctor uses a special needle-like probe that emits radiofrequency waves. These waves generate heat and are directed to specific nerves that are causing pain. The heat produced by the waves creates a small lesion on the nerve, which helps interrupt the pain signals traveling to the brain.

The purpose of RFA is to provide long-lasting pain relief. By disrupting the pain signals, it can reduce or eliminate pain in the affected area. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, or sometimes with sedation to help you relax.

Before the procedure, the doctor may use imaging techniques, such as X-ray or ultrasound, to guide the needle to the targeted nerves accurately. This ensures that the treatment is focused on the right area.

What Type of Surgery Will My Doctor Do To Fix My Back Pain?

The type of surgery your doctor may recommend to help with your back pain depends on several factors, including the underlying cause of the pain and the specific details of your condition. Here are some common surgical procedures your doctor may use to address your back pain:

1. Discectomy: This surgery involves removing a portion of a herniated or damaged disc in the spine that may be pressing on a nerve and causing pain.

2. Spinal Fusion: In spinal fusion surgery, two or more vertebrae are permanently joined together, limiting movement in that area of the spine. This procedure is typically done to stabilize the spine, alleviate pain caused by spinal instability, or correct deformities.

3. Laminectomy/Laminotomy: These procedures involve removing part or all of the lamina, which is the bony arch at the back of the vertebra, to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. They are often performed to treat spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves.

4. Artificial Disc Replacement: Instead of fusing the vertebrae, artificial disc replacement surgery involves removing a damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc. This procedure aims to preserve spinal motion while relieving pain and maintaining stability.

5. Foraminotomy: This surgery enlarges the space where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal, relieving pressure on the nerves and reducing pain caused by conditions like foraminal stenosis or herniated discs.

Your doctor will thoroughly discuss the surgical options, the potential benefits, risks, and the expected recovery process. It’s essential to have a detailed conversation with your doctor to understand the specific surgery recommended for your back pain and to address any concerns or questions you may have.

How Long Does It Take To Get Back To Work After Back Surgery?

The recovery time and return to work after each of these surgeries can vary depending on several factors, including the specific procedure performed, the individual’s overall health, the nature of their work, and the progress of their recovery. Here are some general guidelines, but please keep in mind that these are approximate timelines, and it’s crucial to consult with your surgeon for personalized information:

1. Discectomy: The recovery period after a discectomy can range from a few weeks to a few months.

2. Spinal Fusion: Recovery from spinal fusion surgery typically takes longer, often several months. Initially, you may need to wear a back brace and limit activities. The time to return to work can vary from 2 to 6 months or longer, depending on the complexity of the fusion and the type of work you do.

3. Laminectomy/Laminotomy: The recovery time after a laminectomy or laminotomy can range from a few weeks to a few months. If the surgery was for spinal stenosis, you might be able to return to work within a few weeks. If the procedure is more extensive or if fusion is also performed, it may take longer, potentially several months.

4. Artificial Disc Replacement: Recovery after artificial disc replacement surgery may be quicker compared to fusion procedures.

5. Foraminotomy: Recovery time after a foraminotomy can vary but is generally shorter compared to more extensive spinal surgeries.

It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and the timeline can vary from person to person.

Additionally, certain jobs that involve physically demanding tasks or heavy lifting may require additional accommodations or modified duty. Your doctor will give your recommendations for your work situation and guide you through the recovery process.

What Are Some Possible Complications or Side Effects of Back Surgery?

While back surgeries can be effective in treating certain conditions, it’s important to be aware of potential complications or side effects. Here are some possible ones to keep in mind:
1. Infection: Like with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of developing an infection at the surgical site. Your surgeon will take precautions to minimize this risk, but it’s still something to be aware of.
2. Bleeding: Surgery involves incisions, and sometimes there can be bleeding either during or after the procedure. Your surgeon will closely monitor this and take steps to control bleeding as needed.
3. Nerve or Spinal Cord Injury: There is a small risk of nerve damage or injury during back surgery. Surgeons take great care to avoid these complications, but they can occur in certain cases.
4. Pain or Discomfort: pain or discomfort from surgery is common and usually managed with pain medication. However, there may be cases where the pain persists or becomes chronic. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to address any ongoing pain.
5. Limited Mobility: Depending on the extent of the surgery, there may be temporary or permanent limitations on mobility and flexibility. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can help, but it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions.
6. Failed Surgery or Recurrence: In some cases, the surgery may not fully alleviate the pain or address the underlying issue. There is also a possibility of the condition recurring or new problems arising over time.

It’s essential to discuss these potential complications and side effects with your surgeon before considering any surgery. They will provide you with specific information based on your condition, the type of surgery, and your individual health. It’s important to make an informed decision and have realistic expectations about back surgery.