The presence of low back pain may indicate an injury to the disc in the low back. Disc injuries can be a tear, bulge, or more serious protrusion. This injury may also cause pain down the leg.
If the worker is under care and looking after their injury, a graded return to full duties can occur over six to 10 weeks. If the injury is more severe, or their condition worsens, recovery will take months, and they may require surgery. In that scenario, they are unlikely to be able to return to their regular duties.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Workers often find that they are unable to participate in their usual recreational activities outside of work. Tennis Elbow can also impact their ability to perform household chores.
Tennis Elbow can usually be resolved in 3–6 weeks for pain resolution, if compliant with stretches and exercises. Smoking and other poor lifestyle factors can contribute to a longer recovery.
In most cases, workers should be able to work through these symptoms. However, there is some variance in how resilient certain workers are and how anxious they can be if they know co-workers who have previously had surgery for the same complaint.
With treatment and good compliance with stretching advice, these complaints often resolve in 3–6 weeks. Complex health issues, such as diabetes and thyroid dysfunction may influence the prognosis.
This condition is often misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Some workers are fearful of surgery as this is the primary way that it is treated medically. Try to reinforce that surgery is rare and is always the last option. Connect workers to others who have had similar symptoms and responded favourably to conservative management.
If the worker is managing their injury appropriately, they should be able to perform minimally restrictive duties in two to three weeks (still a restriction against overhead movements). If they continue to progress, within six weeks the worker should be able to resume regular duties without restriction. Smoking, an inflammatory diet, and lack of exercise outside of work can inhibit recovery.
If managed well in the early stages, workers will often only take one to two weeks to fully recover. If treatment or advice is delayed, the worker returns to full duties too quickly, or there are underlying health issues, recovery can take longer.
Onsite allied health treatment and advice in the workplace are extremely effective at reducing the severity of symptoms and the duration of the complaint. Having allied health professionals onsite means workers can receive a diagnosis and commence treatment sooner, without having to leave the premises.
Consult with your allied health team about any specific stretches workers can perform before, during and after their shifts.
New workers are especially known to avoid reporting injuries until they are much more advanced as they are afraid of losing their job or looking ‘weak’. It’s important to instil a safety culture where workers feel they are supported and can seek help when they need it. Finding other staff members who have previous experience with manual handling conditions can be helpful to reduce fear and anxiety.
Very rarely will a worker need surgery to resolve musculoskeletal conditions if managed through onsite allied healthcare and early intervention. The faster we can reduce the severity of symptoms; the less likely workers will seek ultrasounds and nerve scans. Scans can often negatively impact the worker’s mindset and commonly lead to surgery.
"*" indicates required fields