Common Work-Related Back Injuries in South Carolina
One of the worst types of work injuries that a worker can suffer from is a back injury. These types of spinal injuries can be caused by so many things. Further, these types of injuries can become totally debilitating and disabling. A serious spinal injury can cause someone to require many surgeries and many months of physical therapy, all to no effect, rendering the worker totally disabled for the rest of their life.
Back injuries affect more than 600,000 workers in the United States every year. The productivity cost to employees and employers top $50 billion a year. As the workforce ages, these numbers will undoubtedly go up. Having a serious work-related back injury can be very complex and very difficult to obtain the proper and fair compensation that you deserve. Having an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney on your side will make all the difference in assuring that you are treated fairly and justly.
Causes of Work-related Back Pain and Injuries
There are thousands of ways that a particular worker can come to injure their back. Each year, thousands of workers file compensation claims because of lifting injuries. There are no federal regulations governing workplace lifting requirements, so individual employers are responsible for developing their own guidelines to protect workers from injury. However, there are certain activities that experienced workers’ compensation lawyers see all the time.
The most common cause is overexertion due to lifting something too heavy or twisting your back too much. Another cause is pulling or pushing something that is too heavy. Some workers hurt their back when they lift, pull or push something that is not heavy but the employee’s position in the action is improper, thus causing strain and pain. Some workers injure their backs when they fall from a height, landing on their backs, causing broken spinal bones. Finally, another way that a worker can injure their back is by doing an activity with their back repeatedly, such as bending over dozens of time in a shift or having to sit with poor posture during an entire shift. Over many days or weeks, this repetitive activity could cause damage.
- Mid and lower back strain;
- Herniated or bulging discs;
- Fractured vertebrae or other bone structures;
- Pinched nerves;
- Spinal cord damage due to any of the above.
Herniated or Bulging Discs
The spinal column is composed of twenty-four moving vertebrae and nine fixed in place. In between each moving vertebra is a fluid-filled pouch called a disk. Disks act as shock absorbers, separating and cushioning each vertebra. A herniated disk refers to a problem with one disk between the individual vertebrae that stack up to make your spine. The central nervous spinal cord runs down the center of these bones, which protects the spinal cord. When there is some kind of injury to the spine, these disks can be injured and the fluid portion inside can be come out. A herniated disc is when the fluid breaches the disk wall and presses on the spinal cord causing damages. A bulging disk is when the fluid substance does not actually break the disk wall, but merely presses it outward, also pressing against the spinal cord, causing symptoms.
The symptoms that an injured worker can experience when the disk presses on the spinal cord is pain either down the leg(s) or down the arm(s), depending upon where in the spine the injury occurred. The worker can also experience tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arm(s) or leg(s).
Lower Back Strain
Tendons and ligaments are bands of strong tissue that is attached to your bones and muscles that help hold everything together. These bands are somewhat elastic and move and stretch as you move. However, when the spine is overextended or injured somehow, these tendons and ligaments can be overstretched or even torn. This type of injury can be extremely painful and can limit movement significantly.
A lower back strains can also be caused by injury to your muscles in your lower and mid back. Just like tendons and ligaments, muscles are very flexible and can stretch and contract as you move. If there is overexertion or too much stretching of the muscles, they can be bruised, stretched too far and even torn. Again, this type of injury can be very painful and limiting.
Signs and symptoms of a back strain can include:
- Muscle aches;
- Shooting or stabbing pain;
- Pain that radiates down your leg;
- Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking;
- Pain that improves with reclining.
A fracture of a vertebrae usually does not happen due to overexertion or lifting heavy objects. Usually a fracture in this area of the body is due to trauma. A trauma could occur by being struck by something heavy such as a truck or forklift. Also, many injured workers with fractured vertebrae have suffered from a serious fall. Micro-fractures of vertebrae can also be caused by repetitive motion.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal column surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord has thousands of nerve endings that send messages between the brain and body. A spinal cord injury can be physically devastating and may lead to paralysis or even death. A spinal cord injury can be caused by many of the types of injuries above.
Treatment for Back Pain
There are many types of treatment that an injured worker can undergo depending upon the type of injury and its severity. Treatment for back injuries at work ranges from mild (applying hot and cold compresses), to extensive (surgery as a last resort). Your physician may recommend drugs to reduce pain and inflammation, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
To control severe pain, you may be prescribed narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin, Percodan, or other powerful medications. Narcotic pain medications can have unpleasant side effects and must be managed carefully. Additional treatment can include chiropractic care, massage, ultrasound therapy, and whirlpools.
Most injured employees want to get back to work as soon as possible. Surviving on partial wages can be stressful and frustrating; however, failing to follow your prescribed course of treatment, or returning to work before you are ready can delay your recovery.
One of the major types of treatment for serious back injuries is a procedure called a spinal fusion. Spinal fusion is surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in your spine, eliminating motion between them.
Spinal fusion involves techniques designed to mimic the normal healing process of broken bones. During spinal fusion, your surgeon places bone or a bone-like material within the space between two spinal vertebrae. Metal plates, screws and rods may be used to hold the vertebrae together, so they can heal into one solid unit. The problem with this type of surgery and healing process is that it significantly limits the mobility of the spine. Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine to improve stability, correct a deformity or reduce pain. Your doctor may recommend spinal fusion to treat the following spine problems:
- Broken vertebrae. Not all broken vertebrae require spinal fusion. Many heal without treatment. But if a broken vertebra makes your spinal column unstable, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary.
- Deformities of the spine. Spinal fusion can help correct spinal deformities, such as a sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or abnormal rounding of the upper spine (kyphosis).
- Spinal weakness or instability. Your spine may become unstable if there is abnormal or excessive motion between two vertebrae. This is a common side effect of severe arthritis in the spine. Spinal fusion can be used to restore spinal stability in such cases.
- Spondylolisthesis. In this spinal disorder, one vertebra slips forward and onto the vertebra below it. Spinal fusion may be needed to treat spondylolisthesis if the condition causes severe back pain or nerve crowding that produces leg pain or numbness.
- Herniated disk. Spinal fusion may be used to stabilize the spine after removal of a damaged (herniated) disk.
What to Do Now?
Having the right workers’ compensation lawyers on your side, fighting for your rights and the benefits you deserve will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe and financially secure. The Charleston workers’ compensation lawyers at Steinberg Law Firm have handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases of all shapes and sizes dealing with every issue possible. Let us use our experience to help you through this troubling time.
When you are injured at work, some employers don’t like that at all. They do not want their workers’ compensation insurance premiums to go up, which happens from time to time when there are a lot of work injuries. Often, employers will try to convince you to not even report the injury and suffer through it. These unscrupulous practices are against South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. These employers and their insurance companies have a team of adjusters, lawyers and private investigators working day and night to pay you as little money as possible or not even pay you at all.
You should have a team of highly trained, highly skilled South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers on your side. The attorneys and staff at the Steinberg Law Firm will aggressively represent you all the way from the initial phone call to investigating the accident and making sure you are paid the benefits that you deserve. There are many things that we will do for you to fight and win your claim:
- Explaining to you in common sense terms the work injury laws in South Carolina and what types of benefits you deserve;
- Gathering all of the appropriate documentation such as accident/injury reports from the employer, medical records and witness statements before we draft and file your claim with the workers’ compensation judge;
- We will figure out how much your wage benefits should be and explain to you the law in how your weekly wage benefits are calculated;
- Determine if you are owed any lost wages and, if so, how much, along with calculating the appropriate interest on past due wages;
- Preparing you to testify at hearings before the judge, if necessary, along with any witnesses that are required to prove your claim;
- Hire and take the depositions of any treating physicians or medical experts that will be necessary to prove that your disability is related to a provable work injury;
- Ensure that all of your work-related medical bills are paid, including any money for possible future treatment that might be necessary;
- When the right time comes, negotiating with the insurance company for a fair and honest settlement of your claim to ensure you are fully compensated for your medical bills and lost wages and lost earning capacity going into the future;
- If your disability is permanent, making sure that you and your family will be fully taken care of in the future.
But the first thing you have to do is call us and set up our first meeting so we can answer your questions and begin helping you and your family. If you are injured at work, the best thing to do is to contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm. We have helped hundreds of injured workers get the benefits they deserve and helped to protect them and their families from financial ruin. There is no downside to contacting us to help you with your work injury claim. The initial consultation is free.
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