At work, exerting too much weight, applying sudden force or performing repetitive twisting movement can put tremendous stress on the intricate structure of bones, muscles and soft tissues of your back, particularly along the lumbar area or lower back where most back injury incidents occur. Among the most common types of work related back injury are:
- Sprains and Strains: stretching your back muscles or ligaments beyond their elastic limits can result to a sprain (torn ligament) or strain (torn muscle or tendon). Symptoms of sprains and strains include an intense pain, swelling, and the inability to move your back. Treatment involves resting, applying ice pack to the affected area, immobilizing the back, and physical therapy.
- Slipped Disk or Herniated Disk: inserted between the 26 bones (vertebrae) that make up your spine or backbone are soft jelly-like disks that function as shock absorbers, cushioning and keeping the vertebrae in place. When these disks rupture (herniated) or slip out of place, the canal inside your vertebrae narrows down, putting pressure and pinching sensitive nerves such as the sciatic nerve, a large nerve running from your lower back down to the back of each leg. This condition (Sciatica) causes severe pain, weakness, and numbness radiating from your lower back down to one or both legs. Recovery from a Slipped or Herniated Disk usually takes a long time. Treatment may include surgery and physical therapy. Losing weight helps speed up recovery.
- Spinal Fracture: blunt trauma such as being hit by a hard object on the back, slipping, and falling down can cause spinal fracture at work. While a minor spinal fracture may not require surgery, more severe fractures will require long-term medical intervention. Spine fractures range from painful compression fractures common among workers with osteoporosis (weak bones) to more severe back injury cases such as burst fractures and fracture dislocations common among incidents of automobile accidents or falling from an elevated platform. Aside from chronic pain, severe spinal fractures may result in spinal instability, spinal deformity or even paralysis.