Work injuries can result in mechanical or neurogenic back pain. McCormick Law Office workers compensation attorneys get the best results by reviewing records to determine the type of low back pain a worker experienced. It makes a stronger worker’s compensation claim if the nature of the injury is consistent with a worker’s job duties and the work accident.
Mechanical back pain is caused by wear and tear in the parts of the spine. This pain is similar in nature to a machine that begins to wear out. Mechanical pain usually starts from degenerative changes in the disc. As the disc begins to collapse and the space between the vertebrae narrows, the joints may become inflamed. Mechanical pain typically gets worse after activity due to strain on the moving parts of the spine. Mechanical pain is usually felt in the back, but it may spread into the buttocks, hips, and thighs. The pain rarely goes down past the knee and it usually doesn’t cause weakness or numbness in the leg or foot, because the problem is not from pressure on the spinal nerves.
Common causes of mechanical back pain include spinal stenosis, herniated discs, zygapophysial joint pain, discogenic pain, vertebral fractures, sacroiliac joint pain, and myofascial or pain in the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
Mechanical back pain is caused by a worker’s job duties over time.
Neurogenic pain means pain from nerve injury. Neurogenic pain occurs when spinal nerves are inflamed, squeezed, or pinched. This can happen when a disc herniates or when a nerve gets pinched where it leaves the spine. Recently it has also become known that when a disc ruptures, chemicals are released that inflame the nerves even if there is no pressure directly on the nerve. Neurogenic symptoms concern doctors more than mechanical pain because they can signal damage to the nerves and lead to weakness or numbness in the lower extremities. The nerve pressure causes symptoms in the areas where the nerve travels, rather than in the low back. This happens because pressure on the spinal nerve affects structures away from the spine, such as the muscles. As a result, a person’s back may not hurt, yet the person feels pain, numbness, or weakness in the leg or foot. This indicates there’s a problem with the body’s electrical wiring. The pressure on the nerve affects how the body functions. Muscles weaken. Reflexes slow. Sensations of pins, needles, and numbness may be felt where the nerve travels.
Causes of mechanical back pain often lead to neurogenic pain such as when the herniated disc touches the nerve root. This sharp, shooting pain is often the result of a traumatic work accident or lifting or bending incident at work.