Back injuries are common for construction workers and healthcare workers such as nurses, certified nursing assistants and personal care attendants. The back injuries can vary from muscle aches and pains to severe, disabling, persistent pain. Common causes of back injuries are bending, twisting, and heavy lifting and fall resulting in blunt trauma to the back.
It is common that a construction worker may have prior back injuries or a history of back pain and, as a result of a new work-related injury, suffers an aggravation of the pre-existing back injury. In order to diagnose the new injury, it is important that the worker provide his treating doctor and lawyer with an accurate and complete medical history related to any prior back injuries or episodes of back pain.
Common treatment for back injuries include rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, cortisone and steroid injections and surgery. In cases of severe back pain with radiating pain and numbness that travels down the leg and lower extremity, your treating doctor may order an MRI to determine whether you sustained an injury to the lumbar disc such as a bulging or herniated disc that may be putting pressure on the nerve root or, in the worst case, impinging the nerve root. In cases of nerve root impingement with symptoms of radiating pain and numbness, your doctor may order an EMG/Nerve Conduction Test to determine whether there is objective evidence to correlate with your reported symptoms of radicular pain and numbness.
If you have a positive MRI confirming a herniated disc with impingement and abnormal EMG/Nerve Conduction test, your treating doctor may recommend back surgery. Common types of back surgery include discectomy, laminectomy and spinal fusion. Before proceeding with back surgery, it is important that you consider all your options. Discuss the benefit and risk of surgery with your treating surgeon. You may want to get a second opinion before proceeding with back surgery. Be aware that there is no guarantee that the back surgery will relieve your back pain entirely. In some cases, your back pain may be worse.
Whether or not you have back surgery, you may be left with a permanent injury or impairment as a result of your back injury. You may not be able to do heavy construction work again. Depending on your age, education, work experience, permanent impairment and other medical conditions, you may be eligible for vocational retraining or, in some cases, Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) benefits.