Visitor Question

Work restrictions altered so I can work, but causing severe pain?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Mccalla, Alabama)

I damaged the cartilage in my left knee while at work, which required surgery. Three weeks after surgery the doctor said I could work light duty with a long list of restrictions. After reviewing the restrictions my employer said I could not work with those restrictions in place.

At that time instead of paying me for time off, the workers’ compensation claim manager called my doctor and had him change the restrictions. Now I am back to work with less restrictions, but to do the job causes me severe pain and causes the knee to swell. By the end of a shift my knee will be so swollen I can not walk.

What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

Go back to the doctor and ask why your restrictions were changed. Explain how you feel and how your injury prevents you from performing your current duties. At that point, the doctor may reevaluate your medical condition and change your restrictions.

It’s important to note your employer does not have to offer you a position which fits your medical restrictions, if there is no position which accommodates those restrictions.

In the event you are unable to convince your doctor to reevaluate your medical condition and change your restrictions, you can take advantage of Alabama’s Workers Compensation Ombudsman program. An Ombudsman is a neutral person who can intervene in a disputed claim between an employer and a worker.

Alabama Code Section 25-5-77 (i) (5) reads in part:

“In any review under this subsection of medical services provided by a physician, any party to a dispute may request that the ombudsman consult with an independent medical expert for the purpose of obtaining advice and consultation on the resolution of any issue involving medical practice. If such a request is made, the ombudsman shall select an independent medical expert from among a list of at least three names provided by the Workers’ Compensation Medical Services Board…”

The Ombudsman will select an independent medical expert (usually a physician) who will visit with you and evaluate your medical condition. Once you’ve been reevaluated, the Ombudsman will speak with your employer, and possibly the workers comp insurance company.

After doing so, you may be able to return to your employment at a position which accommodates your needs. If that doesn’t come about, you can continue your claim with the Alabama Workers Compensation Division.

Learn more here: Returning to Work After an Injury

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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