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back injuries

Back injuries are surprisingly common. According to Prevention magazine, adults have a 50 percent chance of suffering a serious back injury at some point during their life.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that back injuries account for 1 in 4 occupational injuries resulting in days lost from work.

Back pain can truly be debilitating, and even what seems like a minor injury can cause severe pain that makes it difficult to participate in normal, everyday activities. Tasks such as bending to pick something up or twisting to reach something behind you can become impossible and excruciating.

Sources of Back Pain

The human spine is comprised of five regions - cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum and coccyx.

Most patients who complain of back problems suffer from pain in the neck, upper back or the lower back - or the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine. Pain may also radiate to the limbs, depending on the type of injury or cause of the pain.

Back Injury Diagnoses

When they're in pain, most people crave a diagnosis so they can begin treatment. But it's not always obvious how a back injury occurred, so patients may have to see many physicians, chiropractors and other medical practitioners before receiving a definitive diagnosis.

However, there are several common diagnoses for back pain, and most are treatable. However, patients some patients may not recover as quickly or as fully as others, depending on such factors as genetics, the severity of the injury, weight, age and fitness level.

Back strain or back sprain - These injuries usually affect the lumbar spine and cause lower-back pain. They are the result of damaged muscles, tendons or ligaments, and pain can last for weeks until inflamed tissues subside. Rest and anti-inflammatory drugs are the most commonly prescribed treatments for these types of back injuries.

Bulging or herniated discs - This diagnosis refers to problems with that the vertebrae—the small bones in the spine—and the soft tissue that cushions them. The tissues in the back may become inflamed, which can compress the surrounding nerves. Pain can be intense and may radiate to the legs. Surgery may be necessary, but some patients recovery through a combination of physical therapy and a round of anti-inflammatory medication.

Spondylosis - Arthritis can affect the spine, and when it does the diagnosis is spondylosis. Patients suffering from this condition may have a stiff back. They also may have a limited range of motion, weakness in their back, numbness or tingling and trouble bending and walking.

Spondylolisthesis - If you've been diagnosed with this condition, then your vertebrae are not in alignment. Commonly referred to as a "slipped disc," this condition has varying levels of severity. Some patients may not notice any pain, while others may experience discomfort in their lower back, thighs and legs.


Understanding OSHA's Role In Keeping Workplaces Safe

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 grants every American employee the right to a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as similar state agencies, are responsible for enforcing workplace safety rules and taking action to eliminate workplace hazards that could cause injuries or death.

OSHA inspectors routinely visit companies and worksites to check that employers are following safety rules. But as you can imagine, inspectors cannot visit every workplace, and they rely on workers to report unsafe conditions.

Curious about whether your employer has even been inspected by OSHA. You can find out online by inputting a few key details on OSHA's Establishment Search Page. You can also find out about the most common hazards in your industry.

March is Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month, making this the perfect time to talk about what companies and workers can do to prevent on-the-job eye injuries.

Workers often serve as the eyes and ears for OSHA, and the agency encourages them to report hazardous conditions without fear of reprisal from their employer.

What can I do if I think my workplace is unsafe?

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, we recommend that you bring the conditions to your employer's attention, if possible. Your employer may want to contact OSHA or your state consultation service in order to gather information about how to improve working conditions.

You may file a complaint with OSHA concerning a hazardous working condition at any time by phone, fax, email, mail or in person.

Links and instructions for filing an OSHA complaint are available online.


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This roundup of headlines from across the nation provides a snapshot of what's happening with
workers' compensation in the United States.

West Virginia Workers' Comp Insurer to Face Competition in July
Source: Insurance Journal

BrickStreet, the company that has a monopoly to provide workers' compensation insurance to employers in West Virginia, doubled its profits to $185 million during its second year of business. But come July, the company will face competition from other insurers, and that is expected to cut into future profits, the company's executives said. > View Article

AIG Accuses Other Insurers
Source: The Hartford Courant

American International Group Inc., the insurer that set aside $301 million to repay state workers' compensation programs it shortchanged, said rivals, including Liberty Mutual Group Inc., also duped regulators.

Liberty Mutual, The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and a predecessor of Travelers Cos. broke racketeering laws by "conspiring" to dump shared costs onto AIG, the world's largest insurer by assets, while suppressing probes into their own practices, the insurer said in federal court papers in Chicago. > View Article

Court: Off-Duty Cop Entitled to Compensation
Source: Tucson Citizen

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that an off-duty Tucson police officer shot in the back near Oracle in 2006 qualifies for workers' compensation. The ruling overturns the decision of an administrative law judge last year who ruled that Lt. Kelly Lane was not acting as a police officer when he was wounded. > View Article

More states implement workers comp treatment guidelines
Source: Business Insurance

Applying medical treatment guidelines to the management of workers compensation claims is gaining greater acceptance as more states adopt rules encouraging their use, advocates say. However, some doctors that treat injured workers say strict adherence to medical treatment guidelines can hamper care in special cases.
> View Article

About the Statute of Limitations

If you are not a client and need legal advice or would like to discuss representation, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your individual questions. We only provide legal advice to people who have signed a written agreement retaining our legal services. If you want to pursue a claim, you should not delay in hiring a lawyer. Please be advised that each state has a different statute of limitations within which suit must be filed. If you fail to timely file suit within your state's statute of limitations you may be forever barred from later bringing a claim.

We offer this information as a public service to those interested in Workers Compensation news. This newsletter is not legal advice and should only be considered as general information.

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