Many adults suffer from some form of back pain. The causes can vary, but the pain is often debilitating. When back pain is severe enough to prevent someone from being able to work, he may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, he will have to prove that the injury causing the pain was directly caused by the duties of his job. This can be difficult to do. Learn more here about causes of back pain and how to file a successful claim.
Back Pain Is Common Among U.S. Workers
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain at any given time. They cite research that indicates that low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, with upper-respiratory infections being number one. Because it's so common and the causes are often difficult to identify, workers have an uphill battle when filing for workers’ comp for back pain.
Leading Causes of Back Pain
Most acute lower back pain is caused by a strain in either the muscles or ligaments of the low back. Two common types of back strain include:
- Muscle strain. Also called a pulled muscle, muscles in the low back are overstretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibers.
- Lumbar sprain. When the ligaments of the low back are stretched too far or torn, the result is a lumbar sprain.
These strains are typically caused by any type of movement that places undue stress on the lower back, including lifting a heavy object; repetitive bending motions; a fall or other sudden movement; or twisting while lifting an object. With either type of strain, the sufferer may experience severe pain and an inability to move. The symptoms can last a few days or several weeks. When an employee suffers a back injury at work that leaves him unable to work for an extended period of time, he should qualify for workers’ compensation.
Some Doctors Disagree
Several years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article that attacked the claim of regional back pain to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The authors attested that, since lower back pain is as prevalent among workers as the common cold, it should not be cause for a worker’s comp claim. Because low back pain can be caused by everyday activities not related to work, or by an overall degeneration caused by aging, the authors said that a strong connection between a work incident and the pain cannot be made.
However, the fact is many work tasks require repetitive motions that can cause damage to the lower back. Certainly a slip and fall or a fall from a high place while performing a work task can result in a debilitating back injury. Delivery drivers, warehouse workers, food service workers, and movers are among the many employees who risk injury to their backs on a daily basis.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Back Injury
Because of the pushback from some doctors and the insurance industry, you may find it difficult to make a successful workers’ comp claim for your back injury. The doctor for your employer’s worker’s comp insurer may automatically deny your claim of a severe back injury.
If you suffer a back injury at work, take the following steps to support your claim:
- Report the injury as soon as possible. If you injure your back in a fall or by lifting a heavy object at work, file an accident report immediately. This is the best support of your claim. If your back pain is chronic and you suspect it was caused by or is aggravated by your work tasks, see a doctor for a diagnosis.
- Get a second opinion. If the doctor your employer sends you to diagnoses degenerative disc disease, you likely will not qualify for benefits. However, you're entitled to seek a second opinion. If your primary care doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your injury, you may want to see an osteopath.
- Hire a workers’ comp attorney. An experienced workers’ comp attorney will be able to help you gather medical evidence and file a strong claim for compensation.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.