Neck injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained by Maryland employees.
In 2015 the neck was the fourth most common injury just after back, shoulder, and knee injuries. The treatment for neck injuries vary greatly depending on the severity and form of injury. The amount of treatment ordinarily affects the amount of settlement in a Maryland workers compensation case.
The following is written solely from my experience as a Maryland workers compensation attorney and should be considered only for informational purposes and not as medical or legal advice. I am certain that there are medical providers that would disagree with these statements.
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Common Mechanisms of Neck injuries in Maryland workers compensation cases
While neck injuries can occur in any occupation performing almost any task. Something as simple as a fall when walking from a cubicle to the printer can cause a debilitating neck injury. Most often I see neck injuries sustained in the hard labor industry as well as the public safety industry. One of the more common accidents I see is when an employee is attempting to pull or push a heavy object that is waist high and they strain their neck. Lifting accidents are another common mechanism of injury depending on the location of the object. While lifting objects at floor level seems to cause low back issues, lifting at higher heights seems to lead to neck injuries.
In the public safety sector neck injuries often result from scuffles with perpetrators or criminals when an officer is attempting to detain them. Also, paramedics and emt’s sometimes injure their neck when maneuvering patients, or even maneuvering in the rear of an ambulance. Firefighters are susceptible to injury based on the inherent risks of their occupation. They are often required to act rapidly, dress up in over 60lbs of gear, and work in confined spaces while fighting fires.
Various Neck Injury diagnosis in Maryland workers compensation cases
The severity of neck injuries vary greatly. In fact I would venture to say that almost anyone over the age of 18 has slept the wrong way and awoke with a minor stiff neck or strain at least once in their life. Strains and sprains of the neck occur regularly among workers. Some of those that suffer a minor neck strain seek treatment and recover while others essentially ignore the ache and eventually recover. Other neck injuries manifest into something a bit more serious. These are work injuries that require diagnostic tests which reveal the extent of the injury. There may be spinal vertebrae fractures, soft tissue disc bulges, disc herniation, or even spinal cord impingement sustained by the Maryland injured worker. It is unclear to me exactly the difference in severity between a disc bulge and a disc herniation, or where the medical professionals draw the line. However, when there is nerve impingement or nerve root contact the work injury seems more severe and demands more medical attention.
Treatment for neck injuries in Maryland Workers Compensation cases
The extent of the treatment provided for neck injuries usually correlate with the severity of the injury and the supportive diagnostic tests. There are however some examples of intrusive treatment when there is a presence of ongoing pain or unclear diagnostics. Usually in the case of a minor neck strain or sprain the Maryland injured worker will receive a course of physical therapy and some medication. Medication may consist of anti-inflammatory, steroids, and/or pain killers. If the pain doesn’t subside then diagnostic tests may be explored.
It is my experience that doctors most often prescribe physical therapy as the first step in treatment after a few days of rest. If the therapy does not seem to help then diagnostics are used to determine if there is any internal soft tissue damage. Physicians often refer to physical therapy and chiropractic modalities as conservative treatment. With positive diagnostic tests they then seem to move into more aggressive treatment options such as spinal injections, diagnostic nerve injections, and other forms of injections in an effort to provide the injured worker some relief.
For the more severe spinal injuries sustained at work doctors may move the treatment towards a more intrusive application. This may mean surgery or burning of the nerves.
Settling a neck injury case under Maryland Workers Compensation
Evaluating a case for settlement can be a complicated task which involves complex analysis and extensive file review. Settling a neck injury case under Maryland workers compensation is perhaps even more complicated than the ordinary arm or leg injury because of the possible need for future treatmnet. The settlement process often starts with having the injured worker examined for the purpose of a rating, and then moves towards reviewing the file for mention of future treatment. A qualified Maryland workers compensation attorney will review all documents and come up with a demand and explanation as to how they came up with the demand.
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