Severe St. Louis workplace injuries may leave a worker incapable of performing job duties or even daily activities.
Some of the most severe and difficult work-related injuries involve trauma to the back and neck. Back and neck injuries can be devastating and even after completing treatment, an injured worker may suffer from permanent restrictions and chronic pain.
Work-Related Herniated Disc
One such injury that affects many workers is known as herniated disc, ruptured disc, or slipped disc. This injury affects the disc between individual vertebrae in the spine. A herniated disc can cause the nerves to become pinched or irritated and result in pain and numbness in the legs or arm. The first line of treatment involves pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, and rest. However, if the conservative treatment does not help, the injured worker may be referred to a neurosurgeon. Specialists may recommend a laminectomy to remove a part of the damaged disc or spinal fusion surgery to stabilize the spine.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
Spinal fusion is a type of surgery performed to permanently connect or fuse together two more vertebrae in the spine, eliminating any motion between them. The procedure involves techniques that are designed to mimic the natural healing process. During the procedure, the surgeon places a piece of bone or bone-like material within the space between the spinal vertebrae. Surgical hardware, such as metal rods and screws, are used to hold the vertebrae together while they heal and fuse.
Spinal fusion immobilizes parts of the spine, changing the way the spine can move. This may put an additional strain and stress on the vertebrae above and below the operated vertebrae and may lead to an increased risk of degeneration of those vertebrae.
Permanent Restrictions After Spinal Fusion Surgery
After spinal fusion surgery, a worker may have to live with some permanent restrictions. The worker may find it extremely difficult to change over to sedentary or even light work. However, this does not mean that the person may become permanently disabled, but there may be some permanent restrictions. The person who has to undergo spinal fusion after a workplace injury may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation in addition to other workers’ compensation benefits.