Lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, bending, twisting, and driving. These are just some of the activities that many of you do on the job.
What do all of these activities have in common? They put you at an increased risk of suffering a back injury. And the statistics show that many of you either have – or will – suffer a back injury at work during your career. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), work-related back injuries are among the most common types of injuries on the job.
The term “back injury” covers a wide range of accidents and injuries. Some of these injuries are minor. They resolve in a matter of days or weeks with limited treatment, and the injured worker is able to return to their pre-injury employment. Others require extensive surgery and lead to permanent impairment that prevents the injured worker from returning to their former job.
Common on-the-job back injuries include:
- Lower back strains and sprains, also called lumbar sprains: Moving the wrong way too quickly, twisting, or straining to lift a heavy item are common causes of low back strains. These injuries usually resolve within a few months. Common treatment includes pain medication and physical therapy.
- Bulging, herniated, and slipped discs in the lumbar spine: Your spine is made of many different bones, called vertebrae. These vertebrae are stacked one on top of another. In between the vertebrae sit discs. These are shock absorbers. A workplace accident can cause problems with one of the discs, which in turn can cause pain.
- Fractured vertebrae: Motor vehicle accidents, heavy machinery malfunctions, falling objects, and slip and falls can cause fractured vertebrae. These are serious injuries that can cause long-term problems.
- Pinched nerves: A workplace accident can cause the disc to push against a nerve, causing pain not just at the site of the nerve but also into the legs.
- Lumbar disc disease: As we get older our lumbar spine discs suffer wear and tear. If an accident increases the wear and tear, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia. If a work accident aggravates, accelerates, or exacerbates your pre-existing lumbar spine disease, you can win your claim.
Here’s something to keep in mind. No matter the type of on-the-job back injury you suffer, you must prove that a specific event caused a sudden, obvious mechanical or structural change to the body. Repetitive motion injuries are not covered under Virginia workers’ comp. Neither are back injuries caused by basic movements like walking or standing.
Even if you have a history of chronic back pain or prior back surgeries, you should still seek the advice of an experienced Richmond workers compensation lawyer if you hurt your back on the job. If the accident caused additional damage, you can still get benefits.