Year after year, studies find that back injuries to be the most common workplace safety problem and the top cause of disability. Some experts have reported that the typical American worker has a 50 percent chance of suffering a serious back injury over the course of his life. This leads to a tremendous toll both to the worker and to the nation. Not only are these types of injuries associated with significant pain, but back injuries usually result in longer absences from work than other job-related injuries—and that means a substantial loss to U.S. productivity.
"More than one million workers suffer back injuries each year" - DOL
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year—and those injuries are the reason for about one-quarter of all workers’ compensation claims in the United States. The leading occupations for back injuries are construction work and the health care professions (especially hospital work).
Back injuries: Not just one problem, but two
The classic incident of a workplace back injury involves someone lifting a large, heavy, or unbalanced object and suddenly screaming in pain, as muscles are strained or a spinal disc pinches a nerve. But this mental picture is incomplete. Traumatic back injuries—caused by abrupt stress, sudden movement, a fall, or being struck by machinery—are only part of the problem. Just as important are repetitive stress injuries to the back and spine, caused by prolonged work in an uncomfortable position, exposure to heavy vibration, poor posture at a computer desk, and many other possible reasons.
Traumatic and repetitive stress injuries to the back have a couple things in common: they can be equally painful and disabling, and they both may qualify an employee for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. Severe back injuries require an immediate medical response to evaluate the damage. The injury may make it impossible for a worker to return to his job for weeks, months, or years, and may require surgery, strong painkillers, and prolonged physical rehabilitation to achieve the maximum possible recovery.
Typical Pennsylvania back injuries include the following:
- Fractured vertebrae
- Herniated or ruptured discs in the spine
- Chronic lower back pain
- Muscle strains or spasms
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra after a fracture)
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Cervical radiculopathy (loss of nerve function when the nerves at the upper part of the back are compressed)
- Spinal compression
Getting help from workers’ compensation for your Pennsylvania back injury
Because back injuries are expensive to treat, it has become routine for some employers and their insurance companies to obstruct workers’ compensation claims for sore backs. There often is no outward sign of a back injury, especially for back pain caused by repetitive stress. The employee has the burden of proof to show that his injury is job-related and disabling. That can become a tremendously challenging task for a worker in pain.
At Schmidt Kramer, our Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers have become reliable representatives for workers who have suffered back injuries on the job and now find that their benefits are denied or terminated too soon. We can work to get you your fair compensation even if you previously had a back problem that now has been re-injured. Call us toll-free at (717) 888-8888 for a free review of your case or to request a FREE copy of our client book, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work?