Hernias are painful and often debilitating injuries that people working in physical professions can suffer on the job. Not to be confused with a herniated disc that involves the cushions between the bones in your spine, a hernia involves an organ or fatty tissue and the muscles and fascia that surround them.

When someone has a weak spot in the wall of muscle near an organ, either due to disuse or a condition that has existed since birth, the organ or fatty tissue may push out through that weak spot, causing a bulge and leading to pain and inflammation. If left unaddressed, hernias can cause serious secondary consequences for victims. What happens if you suffer a hernia on the job?

You shouldn’t try to work through the pain of a hernia

Some people don’t immediately notice when they injure themselves while lifting or twisting on the job. Other people notice it right away.

A combination of not flexing the abdominal muscles while moving or lifting heavy items causing pressure can force the intestines or bladder, for example, through a gap in someone’s abdominal muscles. This form of hernia is common for people who work in blue-collar jobs.

A hernia requires medical care and rest. Generally, you will have to have surgery to put the displaced body parts back where they belong. The surgeon may reinforce the area previously penetrated with medical devices like mesh to help prevent a recurrence.

If you notice the signs of a hernia on the job, you should report it to your employer as soon as you can. You will also need to seek medical evaluation and then rest enough for the injury to heal.

Workers’ compensation protects those who suffer a hernia on the job

A hernia can mean massive medical bills and weeks away from your job as your body recovers from the initial injury and possibly from surgery. Thankfully, disability benefits through workers’ compensation will replace a portion of your wages. Workers’ compensation will also cover all of your medical costs, which is important while you’re off of work.

Getting help during the application process and any necessary appeals can let you focus on your recovery instead of on paperwork during this already difficult time.