If you sit for extended periods of time at work, there is a very good chance that you are among the millions of Americans who experience lower back pain on a daily basis. Lower back pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, including a herniated disc.
A herniated disc is a back injury that occurs when the soft, jellylike center of one of the discs between the vertebrate in the spine escapes through a tear in the disc’s exterior wall. Herniated discs (which are also called slipped disks and ruptured discs) can result from traumatic accidents such as vehicle collisions and falls, but they can also result from repetitive stress. This includes prolonged sitting while performing work-related tasks.
How Can Sitting at Work Cause a Herniated Disc?
When you sit, this places stress on your spine. The muscles in your back are strong enough to help manage this stress, and occasional sitting (e.g., to have a meal or watch a movie) generally will not cause a problem for most people. However, over time, this stress can cause wear on the exterior wall of the discs in your spine, and this wear can eventually lead to a tear resulting in a herniated disc.
In general, sitting with good posture can help mitigate the WEAR and TEAR on the discs in the spine. According to an article published in the Journal of Spine Surgery in 2018, as summarized on Spine-Health.com, “[s]itting puts more stress on your spinal discs, especially when slouching forward in a seat.” However, age can also be a factor in increasing the risk of suffering a herniated disc. Generally speaking, the longer a person sits each day—regardless of posture—the greater the likelihood that he or she will suffer a herniated disc as a result.
What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
If you believe that you may be suffering from a herniated disc due to periods of prolonged sitting at work, it is important to carefully assess your symptoms. If you have a herniated disc, and if your herniated disc is work-related, you will need to see an approved doctor in order to preserve your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. This is because New Jersey law entitles employers to choose doctors who treat their employees’ job-related injuries and illnesses.
In addition to lower back pain, common symptoms of herniated discs include:
- Pain in the buttocks, thighs, or calves
- Pain that can be described as “shooting” or “burning,” particularly with certain movements
- Numbness or tingling in the lower back, hip region, or upper legs
- Muscle weakness in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or calves
Since herniated discs often result from WEAR and TEAR, many individuals will start to experience these symptoms gradually. Pain is usually the first symptom, with the additional symptoms listed above beginning to appear once the escaped soft, jellylike center of the disc begins to impact the nerves. Even at this stage, herniated discs are usually treatable without surgery – with medications and physical therapy being effective forms of treatment for most people.
When Can You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Herniated Disc?
If your herniated disc is work-related, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey Law – assuming you are otherwise eligible as an employee. However, when a herniated disc results from WEAR and TEAR due to prolonged sitting, proving your right to benefits can be challenging. Among other complicating factors, New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws require employees to report a truamatic injury to their employers within 14 days of occurrence. If your injury developed over time, your employer may try to deny benefits on the basis that you waited too long to file your claim.
However, herniated discs from WEAR and TEAR in the form of prolonged sitting tend to occur slowly over time. New Jersey requires that WEAR and TEAR claim be filed with the Division of Compensation within two (2) years of when you knew or should have known of an injury and its relation to your employment.
There are many types of job-related WEAR and TEAR injuries, and these injuries are covered by workers’ compensation in New Jersey. The key is to report your injury as soon as possible and to begin gathering as much proof as you can to clearly show that you are entitled to benefits. If you have questions or would like help filing your claim, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Petro Cohen
The New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Petro Cohen have the knowledge, skills, and proven ability to make workers’ compensation work for you. We solve problems. We get results.
Our workers’ compensation law firm has developed a reputation in southern New Jersey as THE WEAR and TEAR law firm, having represented many individuals with herniated discs and other WEAR and TEAR injuries. These types of injuries may be a legitimate workplace injury for which you are rightfully entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
If you believe you suffer from a WEAR and TEAR injury and it may be work-related, don’t be afraid to seek medical help. Let your doctor know you believe it is a workplace injury.
While workers’ compensation insurance companies can make recovery for WEAR and TEAR injuries difficult, it is possible – especially with the right workers’ compensation attorney representing your interests. Many times, insurance adjusters presume that a WEAR and TEAR injury is related to the natural aging process or that it is due to a pre-existing condition that has nothing to do with work.
If so, it is in your best interest to contact aggressive, knowledgeable legal counsel experienced in successfully representing employees with WEAR and TEAR injuries. It is important to note that the passage of time may be fatal to your claim.
At Petro Cohen, we have helped many employees who suffered WEAR and TEAR injuries and are ready to assist you with your claim. We have four offices in southern New Jersey, including Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, and offer free consultations to discuss your potential claim.
To speak with one of our experienced attorneys in confidence, please call us directly at 888-675-7606 or tell us online how we can help today.