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New Report: Back Pain a Leading Source of Workers’ Compensation Claims

By Burg Simpson
January 21, 2016
2 min read

According to a recent article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, low back pain (LBP) represents a persistent public health concern. To give some perspective on the scope of the problem, the article notes that direct costs associated with work-related low back pain injuries and other overexertion events reach $14 billion annually. Indeed, LBP accounts for one-third of all occupational musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses resulting in work disability. In total, this debilitating condition results in 17% of cases experiencing work disability for 1 to 6 months and 7% of all cases experiencing work disability for more than 6 months.

A common condition that gets short shrift?
Considering how common lower back pain is for American workers, the approach embraced by far too many workers’ compensation clinic doctors is troubling. In some lower back pain cases, physicians may be preoccupied with avoiding treatment approaches that entitle injured victims to workers’ comp benefits. For instance, doctors may be called on to make sure a worker does ott miss a certain number of days from work or does not require a certain number of treatments. Conversely, the average worker just wants to soothe debilitating pain and get back to a normal routine.

Prioritizing worker care
The problem can also be exasperated when injured workers perceive that their supposed caretaker is more concerned with keeping costs down than with providing effective treatment for serious pain. For example, doctors that take little or no time to explain the source of pain or the availability of various treatment options may leave injured workers with little confidence in the approach that is eventually recommended.

Injured employees should not go it alone
Despite the issues associated with less than attentive physicians and insurance company representatives, injured workers are granted a variety of rights under workers’ compensation laws. With the assistance of a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney, employees can seek the precise treatment that fits their condition, and avoid returning to work too early or worsening their injuries due to inadequate care.

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