Chronic Pain at Work
How Colorado workers’ compensation can help you manage the financial effects of chronic pain
A lot of people suffer from chronic pain.
According to 2016 data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain and 8 percent have high-impact chronic pain, which is when pain limits at least one major life activity (such as their job and career). Annually, chronic pain contributes to an estimated $560 billion in costs associated with medical care, lost productivity, and disability programs in the United States.
In addition, chronic pain continues to be one of the top causes of workers’ compensation claims in the United States — and one that’s particularly costly and debilitating for individuals who suffer from it.
If you suffer from chronic pain and believe it was caused by your job, it’s time to get serious about exploring what compensation you may be owed. Talk with our knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers about your next steps.
What is Chronic Pain?
When it comes to chronic pain, it’s important to be aware of what it is exactly — especially if you’re seeking workers’ compensation.
Generally speaking, any type of pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks is considered chronic pain. This differs from acute pain, which is short-term in nature and serves as a signal to a possible injury. Often, acute pain lasts for a few moments and is mild. However, there are times when acute pain can be severe.
The main difference between acute and chronic pain is that chronic pain is constant and can cause suffering to a patient for 6 months or more. If you started suffering from pain due to an illness or injury, yet it remains active even as it has healed, this may be a sign of chronic pain.
It’s even possible to suffer from chronic pain without experiencing a noticeable past injury or any visible body damage. In fact, chronic pain can be linked to conditions such as:
- Back pain
- Nerve pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Bladder/prostate pain
If you have chronic pain, it can show physical effects that stress the body, including having tense muscles and lack of energy. It can also affect people emotionally through depression, anxiety, and anger.
Common Types of Chronic Pain
In order to receive appropriate compensation for a work injury that results in chronic pain, it’s important to understand which type of condition you’re suffering from. This requires a diagnosis by your doctor. Here are a few of the most common types of chronic pain caused by a work-related accident or occupational illness:
- Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS). CPS continues for over a month after an injury. Persistent symptoms often interfere with the daily routine of the individual, as well as their quality of life. Associated problems include numbness, anxiety, insomnia, and tingling in the upper and lower extremities.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS can be an extremely severe and debilitating condition that occurs when the nervous system reacts to a trauma by misfiring and sending continuous pain signals to the brain. CRPS often develops following an injury to the upper or lower extremity.
Is Chronic Pain Covered Under Workers’ Comp?
After a workers’ comp claim is filed, most insurance companies will investigate the case. State law serves as a guide to companies on how they must handle work injury claims for chronic pain.
Even though many people suffer from chronic pain, not all workers are entitled to benefits from their employer as a result. To qualify, chronic pain must arise from an injury or illness that is work-related. For instance, if the employee is diagnosed with lung cancer, diabetes, or arthritis, they would need to prove that the condition developed because of their work.
Under the Colorado workers’ compensation system, an “injury” is defined as a disability or death resulting from an accident or occupational disease. A compensable injury or occupational disease can manifest itself in different ways, including:
- Fractured bones
- Damaged nerves
- Illnesses (such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, which are due to regular exposure to toxic chemicals and materials)
- Stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome
To help alleviate the suffering of workers experiencing chronic pain, workers’ compensation can be provided to help reimburse the employee for related costs such as missed days at work and medical bills.
What To Do If You’re Suffering From Work-Related Chronic Pain
First and foremost, if you are experiencing chronic pain in any form, you should see a doctor and tell them about your symptoms. You will also need to file a work injury claim with your manager or another representative of your company.
At this time, it’s best to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer so that you’re properly represented and have a better chance at receiving the benefits you deserve. Contact the Babcock Law Firm to schedule your free consultation and learn about your legal rights.