Forced to go back full time on light duty, but still have pain?
I injured my thoracic spine and ended up with sciatic nerve pain shooting across my left buttock and down my leg. I was lifting a bag and twisted to put it in my back seat. I missed one day of work initially because I could barely get out of bed the next day. I went back to my regular job for 2 weeks and tried very hard to make it work, but had to return to the doctor because of the pain.
He took me out of work to begin therapy and take medications that I couldn't take at work. It took them a month to get me in therapy and messed up my MRIs. I was then sent to an orthopedic surgeon that spent 5 minutes with me, looked at the top row only of one MRI packet, and said you are going back full time.
The MRI showed a bulging disc and 2 protrusions. On the bottom of the report it said the findings were chronic. The doctor said in his dictation that they were degenerative, which they are not. But being 49 years old, there are degenerative disks as well, especially in my lumbar area.
The doctor moved my leg to a 90 degree angle and said there is nothing wrong. His therapist said she does the manipulation to calm the nerves and it is painful. He basically thinks I am lying. His therapist told me that he hates WC patients because 80% lie, and that he does it because it is "lucrative".
He put me in a 1200 brace that most of the people coming out have, prescribed and changed all my medication to come from his office, and has me driving 80 miles to PT, which he owns. He never even looked at my PT notes.
I also have an old neck and shoulder injury that the therapy is flaring up. I had 2 surgeries on my shoulder and developed bursitis in the other one. Last MRI of my neck said the disc was touching my spinal cord. I have pushed myself through that injury as well because I worked for the government, and the IME said my neck injury was resolved, which again it was not.
My attorney tried to fight that, with no response. I have been in therapy and have plateaued. The Dr. keeps telling me I just need more therapy (at the place he owns). I am still on light duty, but have to sit all day and the sciatic pain flares up. When I stand too much the spasms are bad in my back.
I have been warned about being late now, and am doing my best. I have an attorney and requested a one time change, and now the previous Dr. refuses to see me. He wasn't a spine Dr. anyway.
I have NEVER had mid or low back pain in my life, and feel so frustrated that the Dr. thinks I am lying and was terrible. He didn't want to explain anything or even look. He actually said I was not better because I was not happy. I told him the only thing I was not happy with was him, thus the one time change.
I have seen MRI reports that were read totally wrong. I'm not saying I am dead and can't do anything, but the rush of this is making me worse, and now my job is in jeopardy. My light duty job expires next month. I would like to try my job as an RN case manager to see what I can tolerate. Is that the right thing to do? Sitting all day is making me worse.
What can I do about seeing a good doctor, and getting proper work duties? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Forced to go back full time on light duty, but still have pain?":
Michelle (Englewood, FL):
It is our position not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. You must follow the advice and counsel of your attorney in all matters related to your workers' compensation claim.
Your circumstances are certainly unfortunate. You are obviously not satisfied with the doctor or doctors you have seen. As an employee entitled to workers' compensation benefits, you have the right to seek additional medical advice and treatment from a company-approved doctor.
It's not illegal in the State of Florida for a doctor to have a financial interest in a chiropractic or medical treatment facility. It is unethical for a doctor to misrepresent a patient's medical condition, in a direct effort to have the patient seek the services of a clinic in which the doctor has a financial interest.
If you are concerned with your doctor's behavior, and believe it to be unethical, contact the Florida Board of Medical Examiners. There you can file a complaint, which will be thoroughly investigated. If the doctor is found to have violated the ethical standards of the Medical Board, he or she may be disciplined.
Alternately, you might want to seriously consider another job assignment within your company. If you don't, and your company isn't pleased, they have the right to terminate your employment. This of course presumes you aren't working under a written contact of employment.
Best of luck,
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