Labor-intensive industries like mining and construction may put workers at risk of back injuries. Back problems like facet joint syndrome, osteoarthritis in the spine and spondylosis can cause pain and limitations that may keep workers away from the job as they recover. Workers' compensation can provide disability benefits if a back problem leads to lost wages and can cover medical treatments like rhizotomy procedures to treat the worker's injury.
What is a rhizotomy procedure?
Rhizotomy is used to treat facet joint syndrome, spinal arthritis or spondylosis. These conditions usually involve swelling in adjacent vertebrae in the spine, which press against the spinal cord and cause pain. Doctors might recommend rhizotomy if pain medication, facet joint injections and/or physical therapy don't improve the patient's symptoms or condition.
In the procedure, the surgeon uses X-ray imaging as a guide to identify the spinal roots causing the patient's pain. The surgeon will insert a needle with an electrode at its end and place it next to the facet joint. Heat is applied to the nerve root, killing the nerve. This results in a dead nerve unable to transmit pain signals from the problem area to the brain, so the patient no longer experiences pain.
There's little recovery time for the procedure, and most patients can leave the hospital the day of the procedure. Pain reduction can last anywhere from a few months to many years. Patients usually feel pain reduction within a few hours of the procedure.
Medical Benefits to Cover Rhizotomy Procedures
Your employer is allowed to choose your medical care if you were hurt at work and pursuing workers' comp, so before undergoing any procedure, make sure the employer-chosen doctor approved it. If you undergo a procedure or receive care without approval, it may not be covered.
To establish eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, you first must prove the injury is work-related. Compensable injuries include those caused by a work condition, a pre-existing condition aggravated by the work environment or illnesses that were the result of the work environment. Facet joint syndrome and spinal arthritis can arise from work conditions, for example, such as repetitive movement in the workplace or even an accident that injures the back. Workers may have employment records, medical records, doctor's testimony and other paperwork available to them to prove that their injury is compensable.
Workers who have undergone a rhizotomy procedure or who are dealing with facet joint syndrome or other back injuries as a result of a work injury should contact a workers' compensation lawyer. A workers' compensation lawyer can help workers receive the compensation to which they're entitled. In some cases, this may include permanent partial disability. Back injuries are unscheduled member disabilities, so more than just the impairment rating will be taken into account for PPD benefits.
Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps Des Moines workers who were injured in the workplace or because of a workplace exposure and now must pursue workman's comp benefits. Call us at 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form to set up a consultation.