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Yes, Your Back Injury Is Real, Even Without X-Ray Proof

Working a physical job, such as one in a factory or manufacturing facility, requires you to be on your feet for your whole shift. You spend a significant portion of your time lifting heavy objects, operating machinery and standing in place in order to fulfill your job responsibilities. It's a tiring job, and also leaves you prone to back injuries.

Back injuries vary in degree and severity, but these injuries all have one thing in common: They are both painful and debilitating. When your back is injured, every part of your body feels sore and uncomfortable. It significantly decreases your quality of life, and if severe enough, can prevent you from being able to perform your duties on the job each day.

The problem is, many employers require their workers to provide proof of a back injury in the form of an X-Ray or MRI. This would be fine, except for the fact that recent research published on PainScience.com indicates that most back injuries will not even be visible on these scans. You very well may be suffering from a serious injury, but you won't be able to prove it.

What you need to know about back injuries, MRIs and X-rays

X-Rays are used to evaluate the bone structure of the body, while MRIs are able to provide doctors and specialists with images of the deep tissues within the body. It would seem that this technology would allow physicians to glimpse into the body and identify any sign of injury, but that's not necessarily the case with chronic back pain and back injuries. In fact, the type of lower back pain that is common amongst factory workers, construction workers and warehouse workers can project different types of images onto an MRI, and ultimately end up causing false alarm. Rather than diagnosing or identifying the source of the back injury, it can lead doctors to false assumptions that there is another issue going on in the body.

In that regard, MRIs can actually cause more harm than if it had never been performed in the first place. This research has forced many medical experts to change their guidelines to doctors, encouraging them to avoid MRIs unless there are severe, persistent neurological issues in the individual patient. 

Ultimately, MRIs and X-Rays can make the injury more difficult to diagnose, because the doctor must now evaluate grey areas that are not particularly clear.

How to talk about your back pain with your employer

Considering the fact that recent guidelines recommend that doctors avoid using MRIs and X-Rays to diagnose back pain and back injuries, it can be frustrating for workers to receive news that this type of scan is required by their employers in order to get workers' compensation or disability. 

Ask your doctor to provide documentation regarding the flaws with MRIs and X-Rays and how it can actually make back pain more difficult to diagnose. In addition, ask your doctor to provide an explanation of your injury and to explain what is likely the root cause. Once you have this documentation from your physician, you can use it to help explain the situation to your employer.

Filing a workers' compensation claim with X-ray or MRI proof

In the event that you are unable to fulfill your job responsibilities because of an injury that occurred at the workplace or as a result of working conditions, you may be qualified to receive workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is designed to provide employees with the financial income they need to maintain their quality of life despite their injury.

Working with an attorney can help you navigate through the process of filing for workers' compensation. Your attorney also can help you communicate your needs with your employer, who may be hung up on an outdated policy that requires you to prove your injury with an MRI or X-Ray. The bottom line is, back injuries can and do occur, but they do not always reveal themselves on these scans.

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