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Human Resources

Human Resources

Back injuries and back pain fact sheet

There are many conditions and activities that can cause back injuries and pain. Work injuries may include but are not limited to strains from heavy or repetitive lifting, pushing, and/or pulling, awkward postures such as prolonged or repetitive bending, and accidents such as falls. A non-ergonomic workstation such as one with a chair that does not fit the employee may result in back pain. Back pain may also be caused by underlying medical conditions such as degenerative disc disease, arthritis, rheumatologic conditions, osteoporosis, scoliosis, and cancer.

Symptoms

May include pain, stiffness, muscle spasm, diminished range of motion, and pain, numbness and/or tingling, and weakness of areas of one or both of the lower extremities. There may also be a loss of bowel or bladder control.

Plan

Back pain and injuries that have resulted from work activities such as lifting need to be evaluated by Employee Health Services. If the employee thinks his/her workstation is the cause of his/her back pain, he/she may use the Computer Workstation Self Evaluation  to check the workstation and chair. In addition, the employee may call the Workers' Compensation unit and arrange for an onsite workstation ergonomic evaluation. Injuries that do not occur at work and back pain that has not resulted from a work task need to be evaluated and treated by the employee's personal physician as these are not occupational. While awaiting evaluation and treatment the employee may apply ice to the affected area for up to 15 minutes every hour. If the patient has no allergic or medical problems associated with taking Advil or Tylenol, he/she may take one of these over the counter agents as directed. Symptoms of numbness of both inner thighs, new bowel or bladder loss of control, and significant weakness of one or both of the lower extremities may be an indication of an emergent problem and need to be evaluated on an emergent basis.

Work status

The employee may work. If the condition is not occupational, the employee's personal physician is responsible for determining if the employee needs any work restrictions. If Employee Health is treating the employee, the employee health treater will make this determination.

Developed by Employee Health Services