Diskectomies and Spinal Fusions As Treatment of Illinois Work Injuries

February 23, 2012

Workers' Compensation benefits are often available for injured workers in Illinois who require surgery for back pain and back injuries resulting from work accidents. Conservative or non-invasive treatment is normally tried first in an effort to fix the problem without the need for surgery. We discussed the decision to continue conservative treatment or invest in surgery in a blog post available here. When conservative treatments do not manage the pain effectively, doctors can consider various types of surgery such as Diskectomies or Spinal Fusions.

Disckectomies
Diskectomies work best against radiating pain in the legs, buttocks, arms and chest. Stationary and constant pain are usually managed through other courses of treatment. A diskectomy works by removing the pressure which a herniated disk places on a spinal nerve. Surgeons will usually remove only a fragment of the disc. They remove only the portion necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve. That way, the majority of the spine is left intact. Some patients are able to go home the same day, and often are able to return to work in a few weeks. Physical therapy often helps to speed up the recovery process and achieve a more complete recovery. Lifting and sitting for extended periods of time is often limited after the surgery.

Spinal Fusions
A spinal fusion attempts to alleviate back pain by fusing or joining two or more vertebrae together. If you picture a spine, made of individual vertebrae, someone who has had a spinal fusion has a sort of bridge between at least two of the vertebrae. This stops the vertebrae from pinching down on the nerve. It also keeps them from shifting or moving in a way which is painful. Some spinal fusions are done by taking bone from the pelvis or a bone bank and fusing it into the spine. This type of procedure is often called a bone graft. Another way a surgeon may decide to perform a spinal fusion, could be by using a metal implant between the vertebrae until new bone grows between them. Spinal fusions usually require a few days of observation in a hospital after surgery. Many doctors will require patients to wear a back brace during recovery. The brace will help to insure that bone growth remains straight and doesn't shift or break. Recovery will require some physical therapy which often includes riding a stationary bike, walking or even swimming.

No solution is right for everyone, and what works well for one of our clients may not help another. It is ultimately up to you and your doctor to determine what course of treatment is best for your situation. Regardless, if a work injury was the root cause of the pain that is leading to the need for surgery, you are entitled to benefits under Illinois law. An experienced attorney can fight to make sure that the medical bills and time off of work are covered, along with securing the other benefits you deserve. When dealing with your serious back injury, you shouldn't have to worry about money - Contact one of our attorneys today so that you can focus on your medical treatments.


Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diskectomy/MY00673
http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/spinal-fusion-arthrodesis