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Hurt on the job - or suffer a work-related illness or disease that prevents you from working? That can be a grim experience. But, fortunately, the California workers' compensation system takes away a lot of the worry about job injuries and illnesses since you are eligible to receive benefits from your state workers' compensation program. You are also entitled to free medical care.
 
Type of work injuries

There are generally two categories of work injuries, namely acute and chronic:

1. Chronic injuries

  • If one sustains repeated trauma, the cumulative injury may eventually reach a threshold where severe and disabling symptoms suddenly develop. Following is a list of few examples:
  • A secretary who types several hours a day may have enough cumulative trauma to the finger joints to develop arthritis. A forklift operator that needs to use an arm to push a lever for several hours in a shift can experience chronic pain in his elbow.
    A computer operator who sits in a chair in the wrong position without taking frequent breaks may put enough strain on the back muscles to cause chronic back aches.

A computer operator with his hand stretched forward without the proper elbow and arm supports can develop pain in both arms, often diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Acute injuries

Work injuries may be due to a myriad of causes including slipping and falling, lifting heavy loads, twisting arms and legs, chemical burns, falling objects, and flying projectiles. Acute injuries as in injuries suffered in auto accidents, if treated early and properly, can heal quickly and with a marked reduction of chronic problems.

The reasoning is rather simple. Tense muscle causes pain and an immobile position actually requires the muscle to stay contracted to maintain that position. And after a long period, the muscle learns to stay tense all the time, and that makes it much more likely to hurt. If the process is repeated for months or years, problems will eventually develop.

What you should do when injured on job?

If you have injuries while working, you should do the following.

1. Report injuries

Report the injury right away to your supervisor. Normally within 30 days of your knowledge of it's occurrence. If he or she can't be found, find his or her supervisor and so on. Your supervisor should give an "Employee's Claim Form" to fill out and will also provide you with the information about the company's worker's compensation insurance carrier. Get a copy of this form. You will need this form and the information when you go to the doctor.

2. Go to see doctor

If you have "pre-designated" a doctor (usually done when you are hired, or when you are provided with your insurance information) you may see this doctor when you are injured on the job. If you do not have a pre-designated doctor, you can be sent to the doctor contracted with your company and their worker's comp carrier.

You may not like this doctor. However, you will have to stick with him or her unless your company will allow you to see your own doctor.

Generally, they won't allow you to switch doctors until after 30 days have passed since the injury. After the 1st 30 days of injury, by law, you have the right to change to a doctor of your own choice. This is called "Free Choice Selection". You must notify your employer/insurer immediately upon a change of primary treating doctor. You can also see other physician if you get a referral from your primary treating doctor.

3. Reporting back to work

After you have been treated by the doctor, you need to report back to work. If you can't return to work, you should call and notify your supervisor. If you do return to work, give your supervisor the information given by the doctor regarding your injury.

How do the injuries be treated?

Currently, there are many treatments are available for treating work related injuries and have varying degrees of efficacy. Following is a list of therapeutic modalities used in our clinic which have been proven to be very effective on the recovery of work related injuries. Most of the treatments are covered by worker's compensation.

Acupuncture
Electro-Acupuncture
Acupressure (Oriental massage)
Chinese herbal medicine
Cupping
Infrared treatment
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