Back pain often comes and goes. You may have noticed that the last few hours of your shift have become harder to get through because your back hurts most days. On the other hand, it may sometimes hurt when you try to fall asleep at night.
Especially if you are a blue-collar worker or an office worker who sits most of the day, your first response to back pain will probably be to just power through and finish your shift. You know that if you sit on a heating pad for a little bit or take a few over-the-counter pain relievers, you’ll feel better in a little bit.
The problem is that those flare-ups at work are likely an indicator that your job responsibilities are at least partially responsible for your symptoms. The longer you wait to get care, the worse your condition will likely become and the greater the chance it will impact your career.
Back pain will affect your entire life
The worse your back pain gets, the more it will impact your quality of life, your relationships and even your employment stability. Almost 60% of people with chronic back pain report that it affects their sleep on a regular basis.
Pain on its own makes people irritable and can affect their ability to focus or make the best decisions while at work. It can also limit someone’s range of motion and strength, as well as the speed at which they perform job tasks. When you combine that with the cognitive consequences of inadequate sleep, you may find yourself performing much more poorly at work than you did before your symptoms were a common issue.
Eventually, your employer may start giving you poor performance reviews or writing you up because of how your back pain affects you. You need to connect those symptoms to your job to get benefits and protect your employment.
Workers’ compensation helps in two ways
If you file a workers’ compensation claim for persistent back pain related to your job, you will derive two primary benefits. The first is access to medical coverage and disability benefits until you get back to work. The second involves making yourself eligible for workplace accommodations.
Employers typically have to help support workers with medical conditions that affect their job performance. You could change your daily job functions so that you don’t worse in your injuries or get a better office chair with lumbar support so that you don’t do permanent damage to your spine from sitting all the time.
Instead of ignoring your back pain and hoping it will go away, reporting it to your employer give you a better chance of fully recovering or at least protecting your employment despite your injury.