My Husband Injured his Back in December and I Feel Something is Being Overlooked.

On December 4th my husband injured his back at work. He is a yard shifter and his job requires him to get in and out of a wagon hundreds of times per shift. The wagon is poorly designed in that when you go to sit in the seat you essentially have to drop down several inches. He was extremely fatigued because he was working mandatory 16 hour shifts for the holiday and when he sat down in the seat he felt lower back pain that gradually got worse as the night went on. 

Pain: His pain is centered directly over his spine from L1-L5 and the surrounding muscles. While the surrounding muscle pain does go away the pain directly on his spine is constant and he feels like he has a ‘rock pushing in on his back.’ It is better in the morning (3) but progressively gets worse and ends up being an 8/9 at night. He can’t sit upright at all and needs to be reclined. He also can’t walk more than 5 minutes without a flare-up.

Treatment: Sadly he had to go through workers comp and I’m sure you can guess how that went. He suffered for over a month until they finally felt like sending for an MRI, X-Ray and PT. He has seen a chiropractor, PT, spine surgeon, two physiatrists and two occupational medicine doctors. He has been on two muscle relaxers, TENS, heat, ice, massage therapy, epsom salt baths, lidocaine patches, Biofreeze, and trigger point injections. The only thing that gave him relief for about an hour was the TENS and a heat pack. He also bought ergonomic chairs, different pillows and tried sleeping in various positions on beds and recliners. His physiatrist just started him on Amiltryptaline 10mg last week. When I asked if this was out of the ordinary for back pain to go on this long she said no and there is nothing on the MRI that indicates why he would even be in this much pain. 

In March he will be free from seeing these assigned workers comp doctors and be able to go to a doctor that actually listens. He is going into a deep depression because of the pain and he wants to go back to work. (There are no light duty positions. He either works or he doesn’t). 

I asked his doctors if it could be the hemangioma in his L1 causing all of this and they all said no because those are benign and asymptomatic. However I read online that they can cause issues. Has anyone dealt with a hemangioma before? How was it treated? Anything that we should be asking to steer us on the right path? We just don’t understand how there is ZERO improvement after three months. 

Oh and he also keeps an extremely detailed pain journal that so far none of his doctors even cared about except his PT.



  • I had to get a WC lawyer. No out of pocket costs. She simply takes a percentage of any awards I get.

    What you’re experiencing with WC is totally normal. 

    I’d be taking his MRI to a neurosurgeon using your own insurance. That way you’re getting a truly independent opinion and not someone who’s biased.

    Not all WC doctors are bad. Some are ok. But when your MRI comes back normal there’s nothing for them to go on.

    Is he off work with 66% pay or better? Hopefully he’s getting at least 2/3 of his pay while he’s off work.

    My injury happened four years ago and the pain hasn’t gotten any better. Sometimes that’s unfortunately the case.

    Ask me any questions. I’ve become an unwitting expert on WC.

  • Yes he is getting full workman’s comp benefits thankfully but I’m in nursing school right now full time so I’m only working per diem and our finances are really tight. Plus with him being injured it’s hard to work, go to school and take care of everything else. If they got cut we would lose everything. 

    I think we will have to get an attorney because the workers comp laws are so complex we don’t even know what our rights are. His case manager said that our insurance will not cover anything related to his injury and we would have to pay out of pocket which is beyond unaffordable at this point if that’s the case. 

    Can I ask how it went choosing your own provider? We have an excellent back pain program at my hospital but I’m worried once they see it’s a workers comp case they still won’t want to deal with the headaches they create and the poor care will just continue. 

    I’m in PA by the way since workers comp laws differ in each state. Thanks for responding to my question. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone about all this.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,169

    Welcome StewarLM to the Veritas Health Forum!

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Here’s a great article about back pain on Spine-health that you might want to check out: Back Pain Overview: A Guide for Understanding Back Pain. The article outlines common lower back pain causessymptoms, and treatments. It’s a very comprehensive article. I hope you find this information helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.
    Veritas Health Forum Moerator

  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,234
    edited 02/24/2020 - 6:10 PM

    First I must say you sound like a wonderful wife to a good husband. I wish I could find an understanding life partner (girlfriend/wife) but unfortunately I’m damaged goods. Please continue to be a good and understanding listener as that’s so important to a person with a chronic spine issue. He’s very lucky to have you.

    My lawyer actually gave me the name and number of my current pain doctor, who is also my WC doctor. I’ve been seeing him every month for almost four years.

    I haven’t missed any work; however I’ve been on light duty for four years. I also only have been able to work part-time.

    So my suggestion is to find a good WC attorney and he or she should be able to refer you to a WC doctor who is more fair and impartial compared to the ones he’s used to seeing.

    My WC doctor is not on the side of the insurance company. He genuinely seems like he’s on my side all these years.

    I’ve had to go to hearings with my lawyer. Usually if you go to the hearing and the treatment is reasonably related to the work injury then the hearing officer will approve the treatment. 

    Having to pay out of pocket for medical bills related to the injury is not the norm. This is where a good WC attorney comes in handy.

    Your husband probably has a WC document that states his “allowed conditions.” Do you know what his “allowed conditions” are? It might say something like “lumbar strain” for example.

    It’s really good that he’s getting 100% of his pay, especially if there’s no medical evidence (an MRI with a herniated disc, for example) to justify being off work long.

    I’d call your local bar association for a lawyer. They can probably refer you to one who doesn’t charge for hearing appearances. Otherwise you may wind up with a lawyer who charges $200-300 per hearing appearance (I’ve probably had about eight hearings so far).

    The MRI that WC paid for initially missed a herniated disc. When I had a second MRI a year later using my own insurance it was identified. It turns out BOTH MRI’s had the herniated disc, not just the second one.

    I got robbed on my first MRI. That was sloppy incompetence or even medical negligence.

    Hope some of what I wrote helps. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

  • @StewarLM

    I was told the same thing about hemangiomas. I have three of them on my spine. Believe me, if WC could blame this pain on a hemangioma they would. That’s because pain caused by a hemangioma wouldn’t be due to a work injury and they could absolve themselves of anything having to do with this work-related injury.

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