Back Injuries: The Most Common Work-Related Injuries

Greg Boles
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Partner at The Boles Firm | Experience Matters

Jobs that involve strenuous activities such as lifting, placing, carrying, holding, and lowering objects are more prone to work-related back injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over one million individuals sustain back injuries while on the job each year. Back injuries also account for one of every five work-related injuries or illnesses.

Low back Strains

One of the most common causes of acute or chronic back pain is a strain to the low back, which can be caused by falling, crouching or bending excessively, extreme physical exertion, and lifting heavy objects. Ligaments and muscles hold the bones of your spinal cord together.  If you stretch the muscles and ligaments too far, you can develop pain as a direct result of the injury to the muscles and also as a result of instability in the low back caused by loose muscles and ligaments. Sometimes pain can radiate into the buttocks and legs.  Symptoms that do not extend below the knee are ordinarily not the result of a spinal nerve injury (more on that later). These symptoms often worsen when stretching, coughing, sneezing, or bending. 

It is sometimes difficult to know whether low back pain is a result of a more serious condition, so it is important to see a physician if you are suffering from back pain.  Other conditions that can cause back pain include arthritis, disc injuries, and even infections. 

Understanding the Spine

Back pain sufferers often say that they are suffering from a bulging or herniated disc or “pinched nerves.”  There are no precise guidelines for medical professionals to distinguish these terms, and that can often cause confusion among patients. 

Your spine runs from your pelvis to the base of your skull.  The spine supports your body weight and protects the spinal cord, out of which extend the nerves that control the muscles and tissues of your body.  Physicians generally divide the spine into three regions, including the cervical spine, near the neck; thoracic spine, in the upper back; and the lumbar spine, in the low back. Below the lumbar spine is the sacrum, at the end of which is the coccyx or tail bone. 


Your spine consists of a series of vertebrae, which are joints that allow the spine to move in various directions.  A vertebra consists of the body, which is the front part of the vertebrae, the spinous process (the rear part), laminae (two small plates of bone that join in the back of the vertebrae), the pedicles (short pieces of bone that push out from the upper section of the vertebral body), the transverse processes, which are bony projections on either side of the vertebrae, and the facet joints, which are the spinal joints and the area where one vertebrae will come into contact with another.  The vertebrae are held together by fibrous tissues and ligaments that connect bone to bone. Inside of each vertebra is the spinal canal, through which the spinal cord and its nerve pass. 


Between each vertebra are discs, which act as shock absorbers.  At the center of the disc is soft material called the nucleus pulposus, which is surrounded by very tough tissue called the annulus.  When the disc is injured, some of nucleus pulposus tissue may push out of a tear in the annulus, which can cause pain if the tissue irritates nerves exiting the spine. 


Thirty-one pairs of nerve roots exit the spine and branch out into nerves that control our bodies.  These nerve roots exit the spinal cord through the neural foramen, which are openings between the vertebrae on either side of the spine.  The nerves that spread out from the cervical spine control the arms and upper chest; the thoracic spine nerves control the chest and abdomen; and the lumbar spine nerves control the legs, bowels and bladder.  


When the soft center of the disc herniates or bulges and irritates these nerves, the pain can be felt as if it is distant from the location of the injury.  For example, a herniated or bulging disc in the lower lumbar spine may be felt as pain down the back of the leg into the feet and toes. these types of symptoms are very serious.  There are times when a condition known as spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, can cause pressure on the spinal cord itself.  It is therefore very important for any patient with symptoms extending into the legs, arms or chest to see a physician immediately.  This is particularly true if you are having bladder problems or difficulty walking or bladder difficulties.  In general, patients with pain extending from the spine into other areas of the body should be seen by a physician immediately.  

Why pick The Boles Firm to handle your back injury claim?

Getting injured on the job can be stressful. Not only can such an injury put your career on hold, it can also lead to hospital bills, medical costs, and overall financial difficulties. We do not want our clients to struggle with the repercussions brought on by a work-related injury, which is why we do all we can to make sure they receive the benefits and medical treatments they deserve.

When struggling with a workplace back injury, it is essential that you seek to file a personal injury claim with a legal team that is knowledgeable, meticulous, and compassionate. Both of our attorneys are Board Certified Specialists in workers' compensation law, which deems them experts in injured worker representation. Our lawyers have demonstrated that they have the skills, experience, and resources necessary to take on even the most complex workers' comp cases.

In addition to being board certified, our attorneys have the following distinctions:

  • Both attorneys are rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell®
  • Both lawyers have over 30 years of legal experience
  • Attorney Boles has been selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® list every year since 2007
  • Attorney Boles has a 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating, the highest score possible

Call our firm to set up your free case evaluation!

Until more safety precautions are taken, the number of workers who sustain back injuries will most likely continue to be overwhelmingly high. Because back injuries are not easily prevented, they are likely to continue occurring. If you were the victim of a back injury while on the job, be sure to contact our firm today.

We provide free case evaluations, so you can get our professional opinion on your case, risk-free