Back injuries are among the most common reasons that people have to miss time at work. In many cases, they suffer on-the-job injuries when overexerting themselves, trying to lift something that is too heavy, lifting without the proper technique or trying to lift without the necessary equipment and safety gear.

The two top types of back injuries and back pain are lumbar sprains and muscle strains. The symptoms may appear nearly identical to someone who isn’t a medical professional, but the actual injuries are quite different.

With a lumbar sprain, you damage the ligaments in your back. These are the connective tissues that connect bones to one another. They can stretch, rip, tear and pull off of their attachment points. This is a very serious injury as your back is no longer connected properly and must heal before it is again.

A muscle strain, on the other hand, involves stretching the muscle itself. Due to the force exerted on the muscle, it stretches past its limit and becomes painful. In the worst cases, you can even tear these muscles, although that is then a muscle tear and not a strain at all.

Symptoms vary from one injury to the next, but physical activity often becomes difficult and brings on new pain. Some people have constant pain and may even have trouble lying down and sleeping.

No matter how severe your pain is, if you need medical treatment and you miss time at work because of the injury, you have to understand all of the legal rights you have to workers’ compensation.