Learn about your right to workers’ comp benefits after an oblique injury at work
Sometimes we don’t realize how crucial certain muscles are to our well-being until we injure them. Such is often the case with the oblique muscles, which run along the sides of our bodies and help with movements like bending and twisting.
Athletes and people performing manual labor frequently engage their obliques when they tighten their core, and understanding how an injury can happen to these muscles makes it easier to know what to do if you develop new pain along your sides.
This article will provide an overview of oblique injuries and treatment and explain your right to workers’ comp benefits if you suffer this injury at work.
What is an oblique injury?
The oblique muscle runs from your upper ribs down to your hips, and you have both external and internal oblique muscles that can get injured. This soft tissue injury can occur when you make a sudden or harsh moment.
While twisting movements are the most likely type to cause an oblique injury, you can also strain your side muscles from strong coughing, using a shovel or other tools, or even sitting up the wrong way to get out of bed.
What are the signs of an oblique injury?
Similar to other muscle strains, the most common symptoms people experience with oblique injuries are pain and stiffness. You might also experience sharp pain in your chest or hip area with movement. With severe injuries, the pain might still be present when you’re at rest, and some people also experience bruising, swelling or weakness of their side muscles.
How common are muscle injuries at work?
Muscle strains are a common occupational injury. According to the National Safety Council, in 2020 alone, 247,620 musculoskeletal injuries caused people to take time off of work, with almost half of those injuries (47%) impacting the trunk.
While these types of injuries may be common, it’s important to note that there can be a wide range of severity levels among workers.
Which workers are most likely to suffer an oblique injury?
Oblique injuries can occur in various work settings, but some types of workers may be more prone to such injuries due to the nature of their work. Here are a few examples of workers who are more likely to suffer oblique injuries:
- Construction workers. Construction workers often engage in physically demanding tasks that require bending, twisting and lifting heavy objects, making them susceptible to these injuries.
- Warehouse workers. Workers in warehouses or distribution centers who are involved in tasks such as lifting and moving heavy boxes, loading and unloading trucks, or operating machinery, like forklifts, may be prone to oblique injuries.
- Roofers. Roofers are susceptible to oblique injuries due to the constant bending, twisting, climbing and lifting involved in installing and repairing roofs. The repetitive motions and handling of heavy materials can strain the oblique muscles over time.
- Landscapers. Landscapers often engage in activities such as digging, lifting heavy plants, and using equipment that requires twisting and bending. These movements put a great deal of stress on the oblique muscles and can lead to strains or injuries.
- Health care workers. Health care workers, such as nurses and aides, often have to lift, move or reposition patients. These activities can involve twisting and bending in ways that place strain on the oblique muscles, particularly if proper lifting techniques are not employed or if they’re handling patients without adequate assistance or equipment.
- Coal miners. The cramped and physically demanding environment of coal mines requires miners to engage in bending, twisting and heavy lifting in awkward positions. This can easily lead to oblique injuries if proper care is not taken.
- Agricultural workers. Agricultural workers involved in farming, harvesting or manual labor activities may experience oblique injuries due to the physical demands of their work.
- Janitors. Janitors frequently bend, twist and lift while cleaning floors, emptying trash bins, and moving equipment. These repetitive movements can cause overuse of the oblique muscles, resulting in injury.
- Flooring installers. Installing flooring involves a lot of kneeling, bending at the waist, and twisting to lay down materials properly. These actions put a strain on the oblique muscles and can result in injuries, especially if done without proper form or equipment.
- Lumberjacks. Loggers are at risk of oblique injuries due to the physical demands of cutting, lifting and moving large logs. The combination of heavy lifting and twisting motions can cause strain or tears in the oblique muscles.
- Professional athletes. Athletes involved in sports that require twisting, rotation or sudden changes in direction can be susceptible to oblique injuries. Sports such as baseball, golf, tennis, soccer, basketball and martial arts often involve movements that put stress on the oblique muscles.
- Delivery drivers. FedEx and UPS drivers who frequently load and unload items, bend to carry packages, or make repetitive movements while handling shipments may be at risk of oblique injuries.
It’s important to note that oblique injuries can occur in various occupations and work settings. The likelihood of suffering such an injury depends on multiple factors, including the specific tasks performed, the ergonomics of the work environment, and individual factors such as conditioning, technique and overall fitness.
In the news: Georgia quarterback injured oblique muscle on the field
Anyone who engages in physical activity at work is at risk for developing an oblique injury, and athletes fall into this category. In recent years, Georgia quarterback JT Daniels injured his oblique, and his story highlights the importance of rehabilitation in helping manage an injury. With proper care, he was capable of continuing to play football while making strides in his career.
How are oblique injuries diagnosed?
The diagnosis of an oblique injury often starts with a detailed medical history and physical examination. The physician will ask about the onset of pain, your activities leading up to the injury, and any previous similar injuries you may have had. They will palpate the area, looking for tenderness, swelling, or muscle spasms, and assess the range of motion.
If the clinical examination suggests a more serious injury, imaging studies such as X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs might be ordered. These can help visualize any associated structural damage or confirm the diagnosis.
How long does it take for a pulled oblique to heal?
The recovery time for an oblique injury is typically about 6 weeks. Since you constantly use these muscles, it’s recommended that you begin rest and treatment as soon as possible to prevent the injury from getting worse.
Treatment for oblique injuries typically involves rest, ice and heat therapy, over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and inflammation, and physical therapy.
Factors that can influence recovery time include the following:
- Age. Younger individuals usually heal faster.
- Overall health. Good general health supports a faster recovery.
- Compliance with treatment. Following the physician’s and physical therapist’s guidelines for treatment and rehabilitation exercises will usually speed recovery.
- Nature of work or activity. Those who engage in strenuous physical activity or have physically demanding jobs may require a longer recovery period.
It’s important to note that oblique injury recovery time varies, and returning to your normal activities too quickly can lead to re-injury, so it’s wise to follow your doctor’s orders and allow the injury to heal completely before resuming your regular work duties.
Individual consultation with a healthcare provider is essential for an accurate assessment and personalized recovery plan.
Is an oblique injury covered by workers’ comp in Georgia?
Your oblique injury should be covered by workers’ comp in Georgia as long as you can prove it was caused by your job duties. You’ll also need to be a W-2 employee that works for a company that has at least 3 or more employees that work full- or part-time.
What workers’ comp benefits are available after an oblique injury?
People who receive workers’ comp are eligible for benefits that cover the following:
- Two-thirds of their lost wages while they’re unable to work, including anticipated income that they won’t be able to make if they have long-term disabilities
- Medical expenses, including doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, hospital stays, X-rays, lab tests and supplies
Death benefits are also available to family members whose loved one dies from a work-related injury or illness.
Gerber & Holder Law workers’ compensation attorney’s Natalie Elkins and Ben Gerber talk about what kind of financial benefits can be expected if you hurt your back while working.
How do I file a workers’ comp claim in Georgia?
In Georgia, you have 30 days to notify your employer about an injury, which could begin from the first day of an accident or the first moment that you became aware of your symptoms. The sooner you notify them, the better.
You’ll also need to seek medical attention for your injuries, and your employer should provide a list of approved providers who you can go to for your first appointment. Make sure you seek treatment as soon as possible after your injury. This makes it much easier to prove your injury is work-related.
Next, you’ll need to file a WC-14 notice of claim form, and you should receive a decision on your case shortly.
Keep in mind that even when you follow each of these steps, it’s still possible to receive a denial on your claim. Working closely with a workers’ compensation attorney is the best way to avoid unnecessary delays in your case.
Get help after an oblique injury from an Atlanta work injury attorney
The consequences of ignoring an oblique injury are severe, so the last thing you want to do is try to tough it out and continue to work. Be sure to follow the appropriate steps to report your oblique injury and begin the process of filing a claim as soon as possible to increase your chance of success.
If you’d like help filing your claim or if your claim is denied, reach out to the experienced work injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys. Our attorneys have more than 75 years of combined experience helping Atlanta workers get the compensation they need and deserve after an on-the-job injury or illness.
Contact our office today for your free consultation.