Did you know that in 2020, 2.7 million non-fatal accidents occurred in private businesses? While the Bureau of Labor Statistics hailed this as a decrease from the year before, the fact remains that millions of Americans suffered injuries. A significant portion of these could struggle to manage neck and back pain for years.
Sadly, pain management has already fueled a decades-long opioid crisis in America. Now, workers’ compensation pain management doctors propose several alternatives worth trying.
What To Do After a Workplace Accident Involving a Neck or Back Injury
When the accident first occurs, you might not immediately notice you injured your neck or back. The human body evolved incredibly well to power through crises with the help of adrenaline. This could cause you to feel just fine for hours after the accident. Once the adrenaline wears off and the muscles start to ache, the pain can seem to come full force from out of nowhere. At this point, you might have also caused irreparable damage.
Consequently, when you suffer a workplace injury, seek medical attention. Only experienced workers’ comp and pain management specialists can confirm whether you truly suffered no serious injuries. Even when you receive a clean bill of health, your pain doctors might recommend returning for a follow-up. Doing this at the start reduces the likelihood of long-term pain and, therefore, makes it more manageable.
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies do not always provide fair compensation for workplace injuries. Consequently, you might need to enlist the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney. Keep in mind that, while doctors all across New York and New Jersey can provide excellent medical care, not all doctors have experience working with attorneys.
Why does this matter? The records your doctor needs for medical care might differ from what a court needs as proof of the severity of your injuries. You also need a pain management doctor who feels prepared to testify on our behalf in court, if necessary.
How To Treat Neck Pain and Back Pain
Pain significantly reduces your quality of life. It can also make it difficult or impossible for you to continue to work in the same capacity you did before. Even when you do, you might find that workdays take a serious toll on you. These are just some of the many treatment options for neck and back pain that you can consider.
Ideally, you never need to take any medication for pain relief. The milder your pain, the more likely this becomes. However, most people seek treatment when the pain surpasses the ability to manage it with over-the-counter medications. Consequently, your doctor might prescribe pain killers. Most often, these include non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ketoprofen.
If you previously experienced substance dependence problems, especially those related to pain killers, let your doctor know. You should also let your doctor know of any additional medications you take, even if you only take over-the-counter medication. Your doctor will also ask about pre-existing health conditions, such as stomach ulcers, heart disease, diabetes, and bleeding disorders.
Most pain management doctors rely on interventional treatment when patients find that medication and non-invasive procedures no longer provide relief for neck and back pain. Interventional procedures rely on minimally invasive measures to disrupt the manner in which nerves transmit feelings of pain to the brain.
Epidural Steroid Injection
Epidurals involve a lumbar injection containing an anesthetic mix. This mix works well to reduce pain in the neck, back, arms and legs. It tackles pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves, which might occur as a result of disc herniation or spinal stenosis.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Patients who experience chronic pain might become excellent candidates for this form of treatment. The doctor uses electrical leads to stimulate the spinal column. This, in turn, blocks the ability of the brain to process pain signals.
Selective Nerve Root Block
A pain management doctor might use this procedure for diagnosis purposes, but he or she might also use it to treat back pain. It involves injecting a steroid, derivative or both at the area of the spinal canal where the nerve root exits.
Facet Block and Radiofrequency Ablation
Doctors typically use this to treat pain originating in the facet joints. Patients who suffer from this condition generally find that they experience the greatest pain when arching the back. The procedure begins with a facet injection. If successful, the doctor might then move on to a radiofrequency ablation procedure.
Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
When your neck and back pain results from injuries, your body might just need some extra encouragement to heal. To provide this, doctors take a sample of your blood and use a centrifuge to separate platelets. Workers’ compensation doctors then inject this into the cartilage or tendon that suffered damage. Patients generally experience reduced pain and improved mobility in about six weeks.
Sometimes injuries become so severe that you need to repair broken bones, fractures, torn ligaments, strains and sprains, nerve pain, and other serious conditions. You might require this type of care if you suffered neck strain due to sudden slips and falls. In these instances, orthopedic surgery might prove necessary.
Surprisingly, computing now contributes to a significant number of neck strain cases because workers might not practice good posture or might not have ergonomic work equipment. This risk increases exponentially for people who work remotely or from home.
Improper lifting, heavy lifting, and serious accidents might also cause spinal traumas. Pinched nerves or fractured vertebra present common problems in these scenarios. Poor posture commonly contributes to back pain as well.
Most people who suffer neck and back pain ultimately consider working with a chiropractor. This professional uses careful techniques to adjust the spinal joint. The technique moves the spinal vertebrae to a position that offers greater stability.
Adjustments commonly improve mobility for patients who previously suffered from stiffness. Because adjustments also reduce the irritation of pain sensors, patients also generally experience less pain.
Continued chiropractic care also provides long-term benefits. As your pain management doctor might explain, it straightens the ligament fibers, which can play a crucial role in the repair of scar tissues after serious workplace accidents. It also helps the fibers become looser, stronger, and more resistant to pain.
When seeking therapeutic remedies for back pain, patients often find themselves facing a tough choice between physical therapy and chiropractic care. In most instances, patients can do both. Physiotherapy covers a wide range of procedures that might even include some of the work chiropractors do.
Workers’ compensation doctors tend to recommend physiotherapy in instances where the workplace injury resulted in long-term bed rest. People say you never forget how to ride a bike, but believe it or not, the body can even forget how to walk. In some cases, an individual might need to learn to walk with new impediments, such as an amputation.
Physical therapists help patients improve balance, mobility, and strength. Consequently, it serves as an excellent tool for early rehabilitation that builds a strong foundation for future resilience, following an accident.
Psychological Counseling and Support
Not surprisingly, when neck and back pain becomes chronic and severe, it can drive some patients to reconsider the value of life. Reduced quality of life, loss of income, and loss of hobbies can lead to depression, which might grow more and more severe over time. Patients who receive counseling support have a much better chance of overcoming this challenge.
Some patients also find that joining a support group and focusing on mental health can drastically improve their outlook on life. The change in perception and the knowledge that they do not need to fight alone can sometimes dull the sharp edges of the pain. It creates hope in individuals to continue to try new and healthy ways of managing the problem.
Over the years, patients who suffer from chronic pain have achieved successful pain management by pairing traditional medicine with alternative options. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends alternative treatments as a way to reduce the over-prescription of pain medication. Even so, before trying any alternative therapies, be sure to discuss them with your doctor to ensure they do not interfere with existing treatment.
Working with a pain management doctor and a counselor alone might not provide the mental resilience people need to overcome the big hurdle of living with pain and looking for solutions. Life coaches and yogis can teach patients how to master techniques like visualization and meditation.
As far back as 2004, the WHO observed that acupuncture treatments created a significant positive impact on pain. Since then, acupuncture continued to grow in popularity. Now, millions of people around the world rely on acupuncture to manage pain and relieve stress.
Massages provide another excellent way to reduce stress, improve mobility and manage neck and back pain. Patients have a wide range of massages to choose from. Confirm with massage therapists what techniques they use and what options they offer. Then, talk it over with your doctor.
Referrals to Medical Specialists
Sometimes, pain management requires the involvement of experienced specialists. In these instances, good workers’ compensation doctors have recommendations at the ready. These are some specialists patients encounter in the pain management field:
- Osteopathic doctors
Workers often experience a drastic improvement in pain by simply making changes to their everyday routines. This covers not just what happens at work but also at home. In some cases, workers might need to lobby employers to get on board with these changes.
Whether you work in an office or you work from home, you deserve a workstation created with safety and productivity in mind. This might mean different things for different people. Some people experience success with standing desks while other people benefit from more comfortable chairs.
Some patients find that reducing fat intake and consuming more raw, plant-based foods can significantly reduce inflammation and pain. Long-term effects include weight loss and increased mobility, which ultimately improve resilience and strength.
Scientists have not yet confirmed that dietary supplements can manage pain, but some patients swear by it. Common options include fish oils and sulfates. Always consult with a doctor before taking supplements, especially when taking medications.
Exercise vs Relaxation
Whether patients need exercise or relaxation to beat neck and back pain will depend on the type of injury. Only an experienced pain management doctor can determine the proper course of action. Generally speaking, severe injuries require rest while chronic pain might require movement to preserve mobility.
Ice vs Heat
When it comes to treating pain, the old home remedy of icing and heating provides temporary relief, especially for joint pain or knee pain. The general rule workers’ compensation doctors recommend is to ice on and off for 48 hours after the injury and then to apply heat.
Purchasing a back support pillow might provide the extra cushion you need to correct your posture and take pressure off your spine. You can use these while driving, while watching TV in your favorite armchair or even at work.
Improper lifting contributes to a significant number of back injuries every year. Learn the proper way to lift objects and encourage the employer to provide training for these and other safety procedures. Prioritizing safety reduces the risk of another accident that could worsen neck and back pain.
How To Find a Good Pain Management Clinic
When looking for good doctors to help you start living a pain-free life again, you might need to begin with the details of your contract. Some employment contracts determine where you may seek medical care. This might specify a specific health care facility or a certain network of doctors. However, in most cases, employers do not have the right to restrict your options for covered medical care.
Consider the following factors when making a decision about who to work with:
- Proximity to your home or workplace
- Years of experience of the medical professional on your case
- Experience handling applicable pre-existing conditions
- Treatment options provided by pain specialists
Are you ready to find workers’ compensation doctors to help you manage your neck and back pain? Use our search feature at Workers Comp Doctor to find and connect with workers’ compensation doctors across New York and New Jersey. We accept no-fault insurance, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), workers’ compensation, and other heal insurance plans. Same-Day appointments may be available. Call (888) 590-4030 today and start living a pain-free life!