Back injuries in the workplace affect over one million people every year. It is the most common reason for lost work time and can lead to a permanent disability. No one wants to lose their mobility and their potential to earn a living, so it is important to manage every back injury carefully from the moment it happens. Here are five steps to take if an injury happens at work.
1. Get Medical Care
Notify a supervisor the moment the injury takes place. The desire to appear strong and work through the pain can cause more damage and a longer recovery. Workplace back injuries should always include a worker's compensation report and a visit to the company-recommended physician on the same day as the accident.
Follow all the instructions of the physician and attend any follow-up appointments. Employees may have to pay their own medical bills if they use a physician other than the employer's preference. Inform your employer of the instructions given by the doctor for time off, medical care, and therapy.
2. Make Home Accessible
An additional injury at home after a workplace accident could complicate the case. If the doctor's orders were not to bend or lift, doing so at home could hurt a claim. In addition, the injury could add to the pain and suffering as well as the length of recovery. Get help to mow the lawn and carry groceries and move the bedroom to the ground floor to avoid climbing stairs.
Have someone relocate often-used items to a place where they are easy to reach without the need to bend, climb, or strain in any way. Have any tripping hazards removed and install grab bars in the bathroom near the shower and toilet. Ask for help to get in and out of the tub or shower because your mobility and balance can suffer after a back injury.
3. Improve Your Health
You can speed your recovery from a back injury with additional steps that focus on overall health. For instance, the first step for smokers is to quit smoking. Studies show a link between smoking and back pain and that smokers are unable to relieve discomfort due to how cigarettes affect brain circuits that manage pain.
Follow the recommendations by the doctor for exercises that help to strengthen and stretch the back. Lose any excess weight and take nutrition seriously.
Add whole, natural foods to your diet to heal the body. Certain foods can help to control inflammation and reduce pain. Blueberries, salmon, and chili peppers are just some of the options available.
4. Research Therapeutic Solutions
Follow through with the recommendations for therapy and other treatments ordered by the workers' compensation doctor, but research other options for pain relief and healing as well. Yoga, massage, or acupuncture could offer a drug-free pain solution. Discuss the methods with the doctor to make certain any new physical activity will not worsen the injury.
Workers' compensation may cover treatments like massage and acupuncture if the worker's compensation physician refers the patient to these specialists. The medical insurance held by the patient may cover the expense if workers' compensation insurance will not. It is still important to have approval for the treatment by the doctor to avoid any complications.
5. Talk to a Lawyer
Contact a lawyer if any complication arises with a compensation case. The problems could include an employer that will not file a claim or a company that fires an employee after an injury. Sometimes the insurance company will not cover the therapy necessary for recovery or they want a worker to return to work too soon.
Get legal advice for any threat of employment loss, refusal to cover the costs of recovery, or other failures to meet the needs of the employee as required by law. Injured employees have rights, and at Stafford, Neal & Soule, S.C., we do everything we can to protect those rights. Contact us immediately for help with your worker's compensation claim.