Sunday, February 15, 2009

MN Workers' Compensation and Neck and Back Disc Injuries

The most common type of injury we see in our workers’ compensation practice is disc injuries in the low back and neck, including disc herniations, bulges, protrusions, and tears.

The vertebrae of the spine are held together by muscles, tendons and ligaments. In between each vertebrae are discs, which act as a cushion between the bones. When these discs are injured, they cannot effectively act as “shock absorbers” between the vertebrae. Extrusions, bulges and herniations of the discs can impinge or press on nerve roots, which can cause pain which radiates into the arms or the legs. In addition to pain, severe impingement on nerves can cause numbness, incontinence, or even paralysis.

A herniated disc occurs when the disc ruptures and a portion of the inside of the disc protrudes. If the protrusion impinges on the spinal cord or on a nerve root, it can cause radiating pain and/or numbness into the arms or legs. A bulging disc occurs when a portion of the disc protrudes into the spinal canal. If the protrusion presses on the spinal cord or nerve root, it can cause radiating pain in the arms or legs.

Disc injuries in the neck or back, such as herniations or bulges, can be caused by many things at work, including reaching for objects, poor posture, poor body mechanics in lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying, repetitive lifting, twisting or bending while lifting, heavy lifting, fatigue, poor footing, falls, or vibrations.

If a disc injury is suspected, you may undergo a CT-Scan or an MRI. Often disc injuries are initially treated conservatively, with chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, and cortisone injections. Sometimes, disc injuries will become asymptomatic with time, rest, and conservative treatment. If the disc is impinging on a nerve root, or if the vertebrae surrounding are chronically unstable, surgery may be necessary.

There are number of different surgeries that may be performed to correct disc and vertebral injuries including fusion, discectomy, laminectomy, laminotomy, decompression, intradiscal electrothermoplasty, or radiofrequency discal nucleoplasty.

Back or neck disc injuries can be very serious. They can cause severe and chronic pain, can cause you to miss substantial time from work, and can prevent you from going back to your trade or profession. Dealing with the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation system and the work comp insurance company when you have a neck or back injury can be frustrating, at best. Give us a call at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free consultation. We can help take some of the frustration and uncertainty out of dealing with a work-related neck or back injury.

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