Common Back Injuries in Workers’ Compensation
The back contains various structures such as bones, muscles and supporting tissues. The spine or vertebral column is the most important part of our body. Any injury can seriously affect your normal functioning. Some commonly occurring back injuries are strains, fractures, disc slip/herniations, tears, and bulging discs. These are all common in what is sometimes still referred to as workman’s comp attorney practice. You can refer to the work comp lawyers as work comp attorneys, workers comp attorneys, workman’s comp attorneys, or workmen’s comp lawyers. It makes no difference to Gearhart Law Group, we are here to represent your rights as an injured worker. It is important to get proper treatment because back injuries can lead to depression.
Disk Bulge is the protrusion of intervertebral disc. The disc has two main parts. The outer part is a tough fibrous structure called Annulus, and the inner part is a soft gel-like Nucleus Pulposus. Bulging occurs when the whole disc is protruded outside without any tear or injury to the disc itself. This bulge can pinch the surrounding nerves, leading to the sensation of pain.
The damage to the outer fibrous structure of the intervertebral disc can cause a tear, which is called Annular tear. This mostly occurs in the lumbar region (lower back) and can lead to disc herniation causing intense pain in the lower back. An annular tear is caused by strain due to any sudden impact or injury commonly in elderly people. In old age, the tissues start to degenerate, and tears can occur, even with a movement. Initial symptoms are a pain in the leg and in a severe case of injury pain in the back. Pain may increase with activities that exert pressure such as bending and coughing etc.
Disc herniation is different from a disc bulge, as it involves protrusion of Nucleus Pulposus as a result of the injury. It is a consequence of annulus tear, causing pain in the neighboring nerves due to compression. The range of symptoms may vary from numbness or weakness in limbs to extreme pain in limbs and lower back. The patient may experience an inability to lift objects or moving and bending of arm and legs is limited.
All back injuries are corrected by treatment via medication, lifestyle modification, and surgery. The aim of the treatment is to reduce pain associated with movement and restore the patient’s quality of life.
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Common Back Surgeries in Workers’ Compensation
Back surgeries are treatment methods for any pain or injury of the spine. Common back surgeries often result from fall or accident, degeneration due to old age or any other trauma. Physicians refer to a surgeon, who has specialized in neuro-spinal surgeries when other treatment methods such as medication, rest and physiotherapy are not relieving the pain. Some common back surgeries include Laminectomy, Discectomy, Fusion and Disc replacement.
This procedure is undertaken when there is increased pressure of any sort on the spinal cord. A common condition is Arthritis or swelling of the back part of the vertebra called Lamina. By removing Lamina from the vertebra, the spinal canal can be decompressed, and pressure can be reduced. Therefore, this is also called decompression surgery.
There are two main types of laminectomy.
- Lumber laminectomy: The surgical decompression of vertebra in the thoracic (chest) region
- Lumber laminectomy: The surgical decompression of vertebra in the lower back region.
The disc is a structure present between two vertebrae. Therefore, it is called the Intervertebral Disc. It acts as a shock absorber, mobility enhancer and ligaments joining 2 vertebras. In different medical conditions such as herniation, inflammation or any injury, the disc may protrude outside, and starts to compress the nerve. This is surgically corrected by removing the intervertebral disc. The procedure is called a Discectomy.
Spinal fusion has been used for a very long time, as an option for the treatment of back pain. In this technique, two vertebrae are joined together with the help of surgery. The two vertebrae heal as a single bone over time. This will reduce the movement, and thus reducing the pain that is caused by the movement of two vertebrae.
Intervertebral disc arthroplasty, which is commonly known as disc replacement, is a method for replacing damaged, diseased or severely injured disc. An artificial disc is inserted in the place of removed disc. This artificial disc is a prosthetic device made of biopolymer, metal or a combination of both. It functions as a natural disc. There are two main types of replacements including Total Disc Replacement and Disc Nucleus (central part) Replacement.