Obtaining Workers' Compensation Benefits for Chronic Pain Conditions
Workplace injuries are serious business, the results of which impact not only the employee but also his or her family. With proper medical treatment most sprains, factures, and soft tissue injuries will heal, and the injured worker can resume a normal routine. However, for others, the scenario is much different.
Following an injury some people suffer from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which causes chronic pain in the arms, legs, hands or feet. Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), this condition causes severe and continuous pain (much worse than the initial injury) that can last for months, and even years, and in some cases it never goes away.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, symptoms of CRPS/RSD include the following:
- Changes in the skin texture of the affected area
- Abnormal sweating pattern in the affected area
- Changes in nail and hair growth patterns
- Stiffness in affected joints
- Muscle coordination problems
- Tremors or jerking of the limbs
- Abnormal limb movement
Further, this debilitating condition can impact the ability to perform routine activities of daily living and impact the ability to return to gainful employment.
If the initial injury that resulted in CRPS/RSD occurred at work, the injured employee can make a claim for workers' compensation benefits. However, because the cause of this chronic condition is not fully understood, most employers (and their insurance carriers) will deny the claim.
This is where an experienced workers' compensation attorney can make a world of difference. There is specific medical care to treat this condition, and the sooner it begins after the diagnosis the better likelihood of a positive outcome. Further, injured workers suffering from CRPS/RSD need an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the American Medical Association Guidelines, 5th Edition (AMA Guides), which is used to evaluate loss of overall body function. By understanding the neurological and psychological impact of this condition on one's daily life, a knowledgeable attorney can make sure the AMA Guides are applied accurately to fight for the full range of benefits to which the injured worker is entitled.
It is also important for an injured worker suffering from CRPS/RSD to document all medical tests that have been conducted as well as the treatment history. This can help create an objective outline of what many insurance carriers see as a subjective condition (i.e., the injured person is a malingerer or has a secondary gain in mind.)
The workers' compensation attorneys at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP have more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers, going above and beyond to gain the medical treatment and other benefits their clients need to help ensure a brighter future for themselves and their families. If you would like to learn more about your legal options, click here or call 213-739-7000.