Back Injuries are Frequent Work Injuries in Pennsylvania

Back injuries are some of the most frequent work injuries I see in my workers compensation practice.  That makes sense considering there on average over 1,000,000 work-related back injuries in the United States every year.

The spine is the bone structure that protects the important bundle of nerves connecting your body to your brain. Think of the spine as the “electrical system” that fuels body movement. The spine is made of bones called vertebrae. There is a soft material between these vertebrae and that soft material is called discs.  The spine is made up of three major segments:  cervical spine, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine.  The cervical spine is considered your neck area, thoracic spine is considered you mid back, and the lumbar spine is considered the low back.

Five Most Common Causes of Back Work Injuries

Improper Training:  This happens often in warehouses and distribution centers.  They are busy places.  Many times trainers may skip over simple, quality lifting techniques training.  That is sad, because it could save employers a ton of money in work-related injury claims.   Strength doesn’t matter many times if the lifting technique is poor or awkward.  It is the movement that causes the injury.

Heavy Lifting:  Even with proper lifting techniques, some workers are required to lift 50 or more pounds.  At any time, that heavy weight could cause a strain/sprain or spinal injury. Heavy lifting is by far the number one reason my clients suffer work-related back injuries.

Slip & Falls:  This can happen on parking lots and on building floors, it can happen when a worker trips over something on the floor or something sticking out.  Many times what happens is the injured worker falls directly on to their tailbone area which causes significant low back pain.

Pro Longed Sitting:  As the American work force ages, so does the development of degenerative disc disease and sciatica.  Pro longed sitting can flare or exacerbate those conditions.

Blunt Force Trauma:  This happens when some item directly impacts the injured workers back.  One example is a fork lift or pellet jack backing into an injured worker and impacting their low back.  It can result from machinery accidents.  It can result in items falling and hitting the injured worker in the back.  It happens often.

Five Most Common Back Work Injuries:

Lumbar Strains/Sprains:  Typically, most back injuries that are accepted by the employer and insurance carrier will list this generic title.  And many times, the back injury is simply a strain/sprain that will just take some time to heal.   Most heal over a short amount of time, but some do not quickly resolve and required medical treatment.

Bulging and herniated discs:  As stated above, in between each vertebrea is a soft material called a disc.  When one of these discs slips out of place or is damaged, it can lead to a great deal of pain and dysfunction.  At times when these discs are ruptured, they may infringe on a nerve, which could cause radiating pain or numbness and tingling down one or both legs.

Fractured Vertebrea:  These types of injuries usually occur with blunt force trauma, auto accidents, or falling.  They can require extensive medical treatment.

Pinched Nerve:  A nerve becomes pinched from some twisting movement.  They can be quite painful and disabling and can take significant time to resolve.

Aggravation of Degenerative Disc Disease:  Many times I have injured workers who come see me because their work injury was denied.  The reason it was denied was because the medical record mentioned degenerative disc disease.  Yet, the injured worker tells me that he/she never had any back pain.  Don’t worry.  This is common.  As we age, we all begin to develop degenerative conditions in our spine. It comes from years of use and even genetics.  However, many workers have no back pain and have no idea they even have a degenerative condition.  Until the work injury occurs.  Remember in Pennsylvania, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, whether symptomatic or not, is a compensable work injury.

Common Jobs for Work-related Back Injuries

Nursing employees, from nursing home care assistant to registered nurses

Warehouse workers, such as Loaders, Stock Clerks, and Order Selectors

Laborers, including many construction place laborers

Maintenance workers, Cleaning workers such as janitorial staff

Truck Drivers

Landscapers/Lawn Workers

Construction crews

Common Treatment for Work-related Back Injuries

Application of hot and cold compresses.  This is usually the first treatment remedy.

Medication:  Many workers who injured their back are provided medications to help alleviate the pain and condition.  Often times it may be a combination of an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, and a steroid.

Physical Therapy:  Many injured workers will go through a regiment of physical therapy that many include exercises, aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, home exercises, and more.

Injections:  Some injured workers who do not get relief from more conservative treatment modalities may have a few injections.

Surgery:  For more severe cases, a back injury may lead to surgery.


Employers often deny back injuries.  Quite frankly, it is because they can be quite expensive to treat.  They can also lead to significant loss of time at work.  If you suffered a back injury at work and have been denied workers compensation benefits, fight back.  Call Mooney Law today for an absolutely free consultation. We have collected millions of dollars on behalf of injured workers in Central Pennsylvania and Maryland.  We are experienced, trusted and proven.  Call today at 717-200-HELP or 833-MOONEYLAW.  You can also email us at  You can also visit us on the web at

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.