Back and Neck Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

Back and neck injuries are among the most common workplace injuries which make workers eligible for Pennsylvania workers’ comp benefits. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, back injuries at work are second only to hand injuries as the most common workplace injury. The most common back injuries suffered at work include pinched nerves, slipped discs, bulging or herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, lower back strain, and spinal cord damage.

A back injury can occur suddenly, as a result of a slip and fall, a fall from a height, or a vehicle accident. Back injuries can also be the result of a worker lifting something heavy. Many back injuries, however, occur over time, as a result of repeated lifting or moving of heavy objects or any task which involves bending and twisting. Poor posture, while sitting for long periods of time at work, could also result in a back injury. Whether the back injury is the result of a single act, or from a gradual, persistent strain on the back muscles, it may qualify you for workers’ comp benefits.


Back pain can be chronic—that is, occurring for more than six weeks—or it can be acute, meaning it comes on quickly, diminishing within 3-6 weeks. Acute back pain can be excruciating, but is temporary, while chronic back pain can last months, years, or even a lifetime. Treatments for back pain can range from applying hot and cold compresses and taking anti-inflammatory drugs to a surgical procedure to alleviate the pain. Additional treatments may include massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, ultrasound therapy or whirlpool therapy.


Neck pain is also a very common workplace complaint and may limit your ability to move your head, thus limiting your ability to competently perform your job duties. Like a back injury, your neck injury could be the result of a single accident or could be due to repetitive stress received when you perform the same task over and over again. Working at a computer or bending over a workbench are both likely to result in repetitive stress back and neck injuries. Any worker who sits for long periods of time during the workday is at risk for a neck injury. Poor neck posture, as well as lack of motion during the work day, places workers at a greater risk of neck injuries.


There are a number of factors which will be taken into consideration when determining the value of a back or neck work injury. If you are offered a settlement for a back or neck injury, it is important to have a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney by your side who can accurately evaluate your individual claim, advocating on your behalf to ensure you receive the full benefit amount you are entitled to. You may be entitled to medical reimbursements, including future medical expenses related to your injury and lost wages. Back injuries, in particular, can often result in partial or permanent disability, or even paralysis.


While most workers will recover from a relatively minor back or neck injury within six months, older people with a history of neck or back pain prior to the workplace accident may never fully recover. Because back and neck injuries can be difficult to diagnose and treat, they are often denied by workers’ comp. Workers with a back or neck injury may find that the exact source of pain can be difficult to pinpoint, and the insurer may claim the back or neck injury was not related to a workplace injury. Particularly if you had a pre-existing back or neck injury, it is crucial you report your current injury promptly, and receive the necessary medical attention. The workers’ comp insurance company may also attempt to say your back or neck injury is simply due to the normal aging process. If the workers’ comp insurance company doctor diagnoses you with a degenerative disc disease, it is important to seek a second opinion from a trusted physician. Having a trusted Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney by your side during the workers’ comp process can also be advantageous.


At McMenamin & Wing, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. If you have sustained a back or neck injury while on the job, it is important to speak to one of our experienced and skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer. McMenamin & Wing today at (215) 576-7600.