California readers might not be surprised to learn that back injuries are the most common type of on-the-job injury sustained by California workers. Sometimes, the injury sustained is due to a pulled muscle, which might heal after rest. Other workplace back injuries, unfortunately, are more elusive.

Although workers’ compensation might cover lost wages and physical therapy in the short term, such benefits might not address those who experience lingering or even chronic back pain after a workplace injury. Yet doctors still do not fully understand the cause of chronic pain that lingers after the physical injury has healed.

Part of the mystery lies in the brain. Pain signals are received in the brain by the thalamus, which routes that information to several different areas. Each brain area is responsible for a different purpose, such as identifying the location of the pain-producing injury, assigning an emotional interpretation to the degree of pain, and formulating a cognitive response to the pain.

Unfortunately, Western medical approaches might not be able to find solution for chronic pain. In fact, a recent article identified California as a state whose workers’ compensation system has been abused by overly prescribed opioid painkillers.

When nerves misfire and continue to send pain signals to the brain, some injured workers have found relief from an unconventional method: meditation. MRI neurofeedback confirms that meditation can quiet parts of the mind and stimulate other brain areas. In fact, daily practitioners of meditation are able to achieve this physiological result very quickly. Fortunately, an increasing number of doctors and insurance companies have been persuaded by the benefits of this therapy, which an attorney might request be included in a workers’ compensation award.

Source: insurancejournal.com, “Injured Workers Opioid Use on Rise in California, Washington,” Don Jergler, May 20, 2013