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Hurt at Work: Types of Injuries

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hurt at Work: Types of Injuries

If you’ve been hurt at work, you’re no stranger to the frustration and anxiety that accompany the injury. When will you be able to return to work? Will you be laid off? Will you receive adequate benefits? Tragically, many injured workers either settle for far less than they otherwise might be able to get, or never even bother to file for workers compensation simply because they don’t understand their rights. Going over the types of injuries that are typically suffered at work, and which may be eligible for claims can be helpful for those who are foggy about what can be covered by worker’s compensation.

Common work related shoulder and arm injuries:

Shoulder and arm injuries represent a way that many people can be hurt at work. Repetitive and awkward motions are often the culprit. The following are a few examples:

  • Acute injuries: These include bruising, ligament damage, sprains, tendon injuries, ruptures of major muscles like biceps and triceps, and fractures.
  • Dislocation of the shoulder: Joints loosened by repetitive work or by trauma can lead to joint instability or even to disconnection of the bone from the scapula.
  • General joint stiffness: Adhesions called trigger points can cause connective tissues to become “sticky” and inflamed. Trigger points can transfer pain, so it feels like the injury is in a remote location. For instance, trigger points in the shoulder, back, or even chest can cause pain in the hands and wrists.
  • Labral tears: Fall injuries, in particular, often result in labral tears: when someone uses his or her hands to brace a fall, the jolt of the force transmitted up the arm from the hands can create lesions across the labrum.
  • Shoulder separation: Separation results from damage to the AC joint (also known as the acromioclavicular joint).
  • Tendonitis caused by calcium build up: Calcium builds strong bones and connective tissue, but when too much calcium accumulates around the rotator cuff or other areas of the shoulder, painful tendonitis can result.

Treatments for shoulder and arm injuries obviously depend on the nature, location, and severity of the problem as well as other factors, such as the patient’s overall health and prognosis.

Common work related knee injuries:

According to The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, knee injuries afflict over 19 million American annually. The knee is technically a joint, which is comprised of a variety of muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments, which interplay to allow the knee to flex properly, absorb forces, and ensure balance.

Often, we hear in the news about athletes who have endured knee injuries, such as PCL, ACL, and MCL damage. These types of injuries, and tears to the cartilage of the knee – also known as the meniscus – can be acutely painful and can drastically impair even low impact physical functioning.

Work related knee cartilage damage and injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and posterior cruciate ligament can be common.

For instance:

  • A dockworker who steps onto a rotted wooden plank can twist his leg severely, resulting in damage to his MCL.
  • A truck driver can hurt his PCL by slamming on his brakes too hard.
  • An office worker can slip on spilled coffee in the breakroom and tear a ligament.

Common work related back injuries:

These types of injuries can be especially painful and debilitating. Some common back injuries that afflict workers include:

  • Damage to the sciatic nerve (a.k.a. sciatica)
  • Stenosis of the lumbar region
  • Shifting of vertebrae
  • Disc degeneration
  • Herniated discs
  • Damage to cartilage
  • Bulging or ruptured vertebrae
  • Degenerative damage to thoracic, lumbar, or cervical spine areas
  • Pinched nerve problems, also known as radiculopathy
  • Muscles spasms
  • Tissue erosion
  • Burns
  • Broken or fractured vertebrae
  • Injuries to the back resulting from medical malpractice (e.g. a botched spinal tap)
  • Infection of vertebrae or of surrounding tissues
  • Paralysis (partial or complete)
  • General numbness
  • Undiagnosed back pain

Your back can be hurt at work in a wide variety of work circumstances:

  • A warehouse worker may strain ligaments or tear cartilage by lifting a box incorrectly or by working machinery that’s out of date or insufficiently maintained.
  • Likewise, a dockworker can suffer nerve impingement while attempting a launch a boat in frigid or inclement weather.
  • Even workers with jobs that most people classify as low impact or even sedentary can suffer serious back injuries. One of the most common causes of chronic lower back strain, for instance, is improper posture — particularly with respect to sitting. Workers who slouch at their desks or who labor at poorly designed workstations can, over time, develop crippling pain from sciatica.

Common work related spinal cord injuries:

One of the sacrier types of injuries involves having your spinal cord hurt at work. Damage to the spinal cord can lead to a number of ailments:

  • Chronic damage – split or ruptured discs, fractured vertebrae, nerve damage, and arthritis can cripple parts of the spinal cord or spinal column.
  • Disease – wasting diseases of the spinal cord or back, such as Friedreich’s ataxia and muscular dystrophy, can prevent you from doing your job effectively, if at all.
  • Exacerbation of other ailments — for instance, consider the case of a delivery worker who sprains an ankle after stepping into an open sidewalk grate. As a result of his injury, he may come to favor one leg over the other. Consequently, the asymmetrical distribution of force on his legs can exaggerate tensions in his back and spine over time, rendering him unable to work.
  • Injuries due to acute trauma – a slip and fall down an office staircase, a car accident that occurs while you’re on the way to a work function, a fall into an unmarked construction pit.

Common work related Torn Rotator Cuff/Meniscus injuries:

When most people hear the words “rotator cuff injury,” they conjure up images of overextended baseball pictures icing their shoulders in the locker room, but rotator cuff injuries are not exclusive to relievers for the Rangers or Yankees.

In fact, rotator cuff tears and damage to surrounding cartilage (meniscus) may be far more common than most people – even most physicians – realize. CAT Scans, X-rays, and other medical technology have revealed (at least according to one study) that nearly 40% of people who suffer from shoulder pain have some kind of rotator cuff tear.

Rotator cuff tears comprise a class of injuries as opposed to a single kind of injury. Four muscles control the dynamics of the shoulder ball joint: the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor. These types of injuries can occur in various ways, and different kinds of damage obviously require different kinds of treatments.

A surprising variety of employees can be at risk for rotator cuff tears, including:

  • Service and industry workers
  • Truckers and railroad workers
  • Machine operators
  • Office workers: For instance, a secretary who incorrectly hoists a box of printer paper may tear one of the aforementioned four muscles, resulting in acute pain and potentially long term damage.

Common work related fractures:

Fractures, also referred to as broken bones, constitute one of the more common categories of workplace injuries.

Sub-classifications of fractures abound and include:

  • Compound fractures (bone breaks through the skin).
  • Impacted fractures (a.k.a “buckle” fractures; ends of bones are pushed into one another).
  • Pathologic fractures (resulting from disease of the bones).
  • Hairline fractures (bone cracks but does not break completely).
  • Transverse fractures (bone breaks “against the grain”).
  • Oblique fractures (bone breaks “with the grain”).
  • Closed fractures (bone breaks but does not penetrate the skin).
  • Comminuted fractures (bone breaks into many different pieces).

The severity of the injury can depend on a similarly staggering variety of factors, such as:

  • Patients’ age and general health.
  • Whether the bone marrow or other surrounding tissues were harmed.
  • The time delay between the injury and the application of treatment.
  • The application of any drugs, prosthetics, surgery treatments, etc.
  • The patient’s ability to “self care.”
  • Whether or not patient suffered any similar insults to the body simultaneously.

Almost any occupation can put you at risk for breaking bones. Obviously, laborers who use heavy machinery, who lift heavy packages, and who engage in high impact activities, such as climbing, jumping, and walking long distances, tend to be at higher risk. But even sedentary jobs, such as office work, can expose people to danger.

Common work related Internal Organ Damage:

The causes of organ damage in our population are multiple. Everything from improperly conducted surgeries, slip and fall accidents, to food poisoning can lead to damage of sensitive tissues and/or organs. If you were hurt at works, this type of damage and injury can in turn result in extreme pain, chronic illness, skyrocketing medical costs, and possibly even death.

The extent and potential dangers of internal organ damage depend on a variety of factors, such as:

  • The victim’s age, general health, and immune system capabilities.
  • The overall severity of the damage.
  • Whether the damage is acute (e.g. a puncture wound to an organ), chronic (e.g. caused by a degenerative disease), or both.
  • Whether the trauma that led to or stemmed from the damage impacted other tissues or organs.
  • The time between when the patient sustained the injury and when he or she received treatment.
  • The degree to which the initial treatment succeeded in repairing and/or stanching the damage.
  • The degree to which to the treatment exacerbated the injury or made it more difficult for the injury to be treated.

Given that anything from dietary deficiencies, occupational hazards, to other people’s
carelessness can lead to injuries/illness that can cause internal organ damage, it takes great patience and sound investigative work to build a case to get compensation for damages and monies lost.

Common work related Brain Injuries:

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur four times every minute in the United States. Government health agencies estimate that nearly five million Americans may currently have some form of TBI: that’s around one out of every sixty people! A majority of these types of injuries occur as a result of motor vehicle crashes, slip and fall accidents, and sports/leisure accidents.

Sample TBI workers’ comp cases:

  • A delivery truck driver gets into an accident and suffers a whiplash injury.
  • An account executive gets hit in the head with a softball during a company picnic.
  • A utility repair person slips off a ladder and hits his head while on a job.

Sample TBI personal injury cases:

  • Defective brakes prevent a driver from stopping in time; he collides with a telephone pole.
  • A football player gets hurt after being tackled; his defective helmet failed to blunt the blow.
  • A child slips on a neighbor’s rickety staircase and hits her head on stone steps.

The severity of the brain injury and the potential treatments and remedies depend on a variety of factors. In particular, the amount and direction of force to the brain can create different kinds of injuries. A blow to the front of the head (for instance, a speeding baseball) can create two impacts: a primary impact, also known a coup (the brain literally squishes against the front of the skull) and a secondary impact, called the contrecoup (the brain ricochets against the back of the skull).

Alternatively, a torsional force applied to the head (e.g. via whiplash), can damage axons and hurt the central region of the brain.

Hurt at Work?

If you have been hurt at work, it is important that you seek legal assistance to receive the compensation you deserve. Studies show that claimants who “go it alone” (file without the help of an attorney) get two to three times less than what they get with good legal counsel on their side.

When you call 1-888-625-6265 or contact us for a Free Workers Compensation Case Evaluation, you’ll immediately be connected with an experienced attorney, who will go to work filing your claim.


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