Modern American culture prizes independence and toughness. It’s little surprise then, that so many people who get hurt at work try to stick it out and ignore their injuries. People often think that if they ignore minor symptoms, they will go away over time. While that may be true in the case of a cold or other minor illness, the same is not always true for injuries. In fact, ignoring them can lead to worsening symptoms over time.

No matter how tough you may think you are or how dedicated you feel to your job, pushing yourself to continue your work while you have a back injury is almost always a mistake. Instead, you should seek medical evaluation and do whatever you need to recover and allow yourself to heal.

Repetitive motions can contribute to and worsen back injuries

One of the common sources of back injuries at work is the need to repeatedly twist, bend and lift. Exerting repeated strain on the intricate muscles, connective tissues and bones of the spine can increase the risk for injury. For people who have an existing back injury, these repetitive motions can make symptoms worse or prevent the injury from fully healing.

Even if you don’t lift frequently throughout the day, so long as lifting, twisting or bending are daily tasks for you, your injury likely won’t heal unless you stop performing those actions. It is not a sign of weakness or laziness to ask for a medical evaluation and accommodations that reflect your diagnosis.

Getting treatment now may protect your ability to work in the future

Instead of grinding away at your job, hoping that you won’t worsen your injury, it is probably better to listen to medical advice and rest if necessary. In order for your body to heal, it first has to address the source of the injury.

In this case, the exertion of your job contributed to the injury, so continuing to work at the same pace and with the same tasks will only delay your recovery. If you put off getting treatment, you could find it has a long-lasting impact on your ability to work without pain.

Taking time off to recover can be a stressful situation. However, if your back injury is from work, workers’ compensation will likely cover your lost wages up to a point. More importantly, that time off of work can give your back the opportunity to heal.

Your employer may be able to help by limiting or adjusting your responsibilities while you recover, allowing you to stay on the job. Once you have healed, you can make sure that you are executing tasks at work more carefully in order to limit the risk of a new injury or exacerbate the old one.