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    Everyone knows the phrase adding “insult to injury.” For some injured workers, it could mean getting stuck with chronic, debilitating pain, long after their initial injury has healed. Unfortunately, since the causes of chronic pain are not completely understood, injured workers can face an uphill battle in getting the treatment and compensation they need.

    Workers’ compensation is supposed to provide coverage for all reasonable and necessary treatment. However, many employers and insurers will argue that treatment for chronic pain does not meet this standard. Because of this workers’ compensation claims for chronic pain treatment are often denied.

    If you are suffering from chronic pain caused by a work-related injury or illness, you don’t have the time or energy to deal with bureaucracy. You just want the workers’ compensation benefits you’re owed, and we can help. At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for the treatment you deserve. Since 1968, our firm has advocated on behalf of injured workers, even when employers and insurers try to unfairly deny coverage. We have successfully helped thousands of injured, including those suffering from chronic pain.

    Contact our firm today for a free evaluation of your chronic pain workers’ compensation case. We will help you understand your options. If you hire our firm, we will get started on your case with no upfront fees. You only pay us if we recover compensation for you. With offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Clinton, and Summerville, we serve injured workers across South Carolina. Plus, if you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.

    Understanding Chronic Pain

    After a work-related injury, some people may continue to suffer from chronic pain even after they have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which no further treatment is expected to improve a patient’s condition.

    Chronic pain is often defined as pain that lasts at least three months from the initial onset of symptoms and cannot be resolved by multiple forms of treatment or palliative care. Chronic pain may be attributed to a variety of conditions, outlined below.

    Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) back pain after in a car accident

    This condition can cause chronic pain in a person’s neck, back, or extremities that can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.

    CRPS comes in one of two forms:

    • CRPS-1, also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, arises from injuries and damage to soft tissues such as skin, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Injuries like burns, strains, and tears can cause CRPS-1. These injuries can lead to chronic conditions like bursitis, arthritis, or tendonitis.
    • CRPS-2, also called causalgia, is caused by an injury to a major nerve grouping. This damage usually stems from a traumatic force—such as a car crash, fall, or penetrating wound. The condition can begin immediately or develop months after an injury occurs..


    Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. Fibromyalgia affects the way the brain processes pain signals, leading to amplified painful sensations affecting the entire body.

    The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, but it often appears after physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time without a single triggering event.

    Neuropathic Pain

    Neuropathic pain arises from damaged or dysfunctional nerves. An injury disrupts the normal nerve function either within the peripheral or central nervous system. This sends pain signals to the brain unprompted. Victims might describe this pain as a burning, shooting, or stabbing sensation.

    Common causes include traumatic injuries, infections, surgery, and conditions like diabetes. Neuropathic pain is particularly challenging to manage because it does not respond well to standard pain treatment methods.

    Myofascial Pain

    Person with knee pain

    Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder in which pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is known as referred pain. It often originates from specific muscle or fascial strains, and can result from repetitive motions or muscle stress.

    Symptoms include persistent pain or tenderness in a muscle, along with a noticeable knot in the muscle which can affect the muscle’s functionality and motion.

    Chronic Post-Surgical Pain

    Chronic post-surgical pain (CPSP) is pain that persists beyond the typical healing time following surgery. The pain may stem from the surgical site or affect areas not directly associated with the surgical site.

    Factors contributing to CPSP include pre-surgical pain, the type and extent of surgery, acute postoperative pain intensity, and psychological factors such as anxiety or depression. This type of pain can be particularly disheartening to patients who expect relief from their original condition through surgery.

    What Are the Impacts of Chronic Pain?

    If you’re dealing with chronic pain, then you already know it can impact every aspect of your life.  It can leave an injured worker unable to perform the requirements of the job or even tasks of daily living. Avoiding movements that cause sharp pain can result in loss of mobility, impaired range of motion, or reduced strength.

    People suffering from chronic pain may be forced to turn to narcotic medications for relief. However, the side effects of narcotics may make it unsafe for users to drive vehicles or operate machinery. Depending on their job, this could potentially render them unable to get to work or perform job tasks.

    One of the worst things about chronic pain is the significant emotional and mental distress it has on you and your family. Dealing with chronic pain takes a toll on your energy levels, mood, concentration, social interactions, and overall quality of life. Additional psychological impacts include: Dull nice woman increasing apathy

    • Depression: This includes feelings of reduced energy, helplessness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Not only can pain lead to depression, but experiencing depression can also intensify the perception of pain, creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
    • Anxiety: Chronic pain sufferers may worry about their health, the possibility of their pain worsening, and the financial implications of their condition. This constant state of apprehension can lead to muscle tension, further aggravating physical pain.
    • PTSD: If chronic pain develops as the result of a traumatic accident in the workplace, individuals may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Reliving their trauma through flashbacks and nightmares can intensify the experience of pain.

    Mental health services, such as counseling, therapy, and medication, can provide significant relief for individuals struggling with the psychological aspects of chronic pain. These treatments can help manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

    Recognizing the intertwined nature of physical and mental health is essential in the context of workers’ compensation claims. Incorporating mental health treatment into workers’ compensation claims ensures a comprehensive approach to recovery.

    How Do You Prove Chronic Pain From a Work Injury?

    Unfortunately, many work injury victims have difficulty proving chronic pain. For starters, the victims suffering from chronic pain often face skepticism from their treating providers, employers, and workers’ compensation insurers. A worker may be accused of malingering, or exaggerating complaints of pain to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Treating medical providers may also attribute chronic pain symptoms to psychological or psychiatric causes, telling a patient, in essence, “It’s all in your head.”

    Injured workers suffering from chronic pain may need to push to have their condition diagnosed so that they can get the treatment they deserve and are entitled to through workers’ compensation. Doctors can run many different tests, most of which aim to exclude other possible causes of pain, such as:

    • X-rays, which can reveal microfractures or bone density loss
    • blood clot filterMRIs, which can show damage or irregularities in soft tissue
    • Blood tests, which can exclude infection or inflammation as a cause of pain
    • Ultrasound scans, which can rule out blood clots
    • Electrodiagnostic testing, which measures the electrical activity of body parts to determine whether nerves or pain receptors are being stimulated

    One of the primary hurdles in proving chronic pain is the lack of objective medical evidence. Chronic pain often does not have a visible marker. Therefore, detailed medical records become crucial.

    Consistent documentation of your condition by healthcare providers is essential. This includes documenting your pain levels, treatment plans, and the effectiveness of those treatments. Medical records should also detail how the pain affects daily activities and work capabilities. This comprehensive documentation serves as the foundation of your claim, illustrating the severity and persistence of your pain.

    Expert testimony can also play a pivotal role in substantiating a claim. Medical experts specializing in pain management can provide valuable insights into the nature of chronic pain, its likely causes, and its long-term effects on an individual. These experts can explain the medical science behind chronic pain to insurers or adjudicators, who may not have a deep understanding of these conditions.

    Finally, personal diaries or logs documenting pain levels and their impact on daily activities are also essential. These can help support your claim, providing a detailed account of how the pain manifests over time.

    How Does One Get Treatment for Chronic Pain Through the Workers’ Compensation System?

    Treatment of chronic pain is usually provided by a particular type of physician known as a pain management specialist. Pain management specialists usually come from the medical discipline of anesthesiology. Treatments for chronic pain can include:

    • Physical and occupational therapy
    • Medication
    • Nerve block, trigger point, and epidural injections
    • Spinal cord stimulation
    • Psychotherapy

    Workers’ compensation is required to provide all reasonable and necessary treatment for a work-related injury. This can include treatment to provide relief from the effects of the injury, such as chronic pain.

    However, many employers and workers’ compensation insurers unfairly deny coverage for treatment for chronic pain because the conditions are so poorly understood. As a result, a worker suffering from chronic pain may have difficulty proving their pain is linked to their work-related injury without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

    Why Workers’ Comp Claims Involving Chronic Pain Are So Complex

    Unfortunately, many employers and workers’ compensation insurers resist paying claims for treatment of chronic pain for various reasons:

    • Treatment of chronic pain can last for years or potentially a lifetime, resulting in significant costs for the employer and its workers’ comp insurer.
    • work injury claim deniedMany physicians remain suspicious of claims of chronic pain, especially when the physician cannot attribute the pain to a healing injury, an infection, or another disease.
    • Chronic pain that continues even after a patient has reached MMI may simply be dismissed as psychological.
    • Chronic pain can be mistaken for drug-seeking behavior or an attempt by the injured worker to remain on workers’ comp longer than needed.

    Injured workers dealing with chronic pain face a lot of hurdles, from medical bias to skeptical insurance adjusters. This is why it is so important to get an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. Treatment for chronic pain may be more likely to be approved for workers’ compensation when:

    • Treating providers have a defined plan to relieve chronic pain
    • Long-term treatment plans provide treatments on an as-needed basis rather than on a set schedule.
    • Treatments have low costs or only require a few sessions, if expensive
    • Treatment does not duplicate other efforts that might provide relief, such as physical therapy

    If you are having trouble getting treatment for chronic pain approved, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Our legal team at Joye Law Firm can help you understand your rights.

    Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help

    If you are suffering from chronic pain due to a work injury or an occupational illness, don’t wait to get help. You may be entitled to additional benefits from workers’ compensation to cover treatments that can help with your pain. Reach out to Joye Law Firm online today for a free, no-obligation consultation. One of our South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can explain more about your rights and options.

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    Ken Harrell Partner at Joye Law Firm