Back injuries are sustained in a myriad of ways and some people are more likely to develop back pain and injury than others are. Some people incur back injuries from doing seemingly nothing; a simple twist or turn the wrong way in bed, for example, could cause a vertebra to go out of alignment. Others incur injury at home or on the job, while others sustain back injuries from traumatic events such as a vehicular accident.
Back injuries can be sustained on any number of structures in the spine. Although lower back injuries are the most prevalent, many people have sustained injuries to the thoracic (middle spine) or cervical (neck) portions of their spinal cord. Injuries can occur to the vertebrae, discs, nerves, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues. Once an injury has been incurred, other parts of the body, from the toes to the head, also can be affected.
Nationally, back injuries cost U.S. businesses approximately $30 billion per year, at an estimated average cost per claim of $24,000. If surgery is involved, the cost for claims increases significantly to $40,000 per injury or higher. One recent back injury involving surgery totaled $240,000.
Health care industry workers sustain nearly five times more back injuries than any other type of worker and are among 6 of the top 10 professions at greatest risk for back injury, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.