Proper Diagnosis Key To Treating Workplace Injuries

SARASOTA, Fla., Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When an injury occurs in the workplace, a proper diagnosis is needed to determine the most effective treatment, according to Erik Herman, M.D., a board-certified rehabilitation physician at Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center in Sarasota, Florida.

"There are many options for treating injuries to the lower back, which is the most common type of workplace accident," said Herman. "In many cases, physical therapy or other treatments can restore normal functioning without surgery. But a physical examination, prior history of problems and testing are vital to identifying the problem."

Herman is an expert in electromyography (EMG), a computerized test that can determine if there is a "pinched" nerve or muscle disease. Imaging tests, such as x-rays or MRI scans, are used to check the condition of the spinal discs and determine if there are any broken bones in the spine or vertebrae.

"My goal is to diagnose the back problem correctly and develop a conservative treatment plan," he said. Depending on the patient, treatment might include medication, physical therapy, a home exercise program, or pain-reducing injections.

In less severe cases, a patient might be advised to apply an ice pack to reduce swollen tissues and take anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Rest and heat treatments can also help by soothing muscle tissues.

"I believe in working with the patient to design the best program to help them get better as quickly as possible," he said. "In many cases, this therapy can lead to dramatic improvements in functioning, greater mobility and a reduction in pain without the need for surgery."

As a physiatrist who is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine, Herman sees patients who have pain in their back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs, knees, hands, or feet.

In many cases, workplace injuries to these parts of the body are the result of improper lifting techniques, according to Herman. For example, a nurse might hurt herself while attempting to lift a patient from a hospital bed. Trying to move a heavy object could lead to shoulder, neck or knee problems as well.

"There is no way to prevent these types of injuries in the workplace," Herman said. "However, following proper lifting techniques – using the legs and body rather than bending at the waist – can reduce the risk of an accident. It's also important to follow the rules of the workplace, improve one's physical fitness with daily exercise, and stay alert while on the job."

In addition to rehabilitative treatments, Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center's specialties include sports medicine and arthroscopy, joint replacement surgery, correction of hand and foot deformities, neck and low back pain, and treatment of arm and leg pain from compressed nerves. For more information, visit

SOURCE Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center