Imagine this: someone at work backs a dolly into your leg, breaking it. Sure, it hurt–a lot–but you expected to be off work for a few weeks to heal and then it would be all over. Instead, the break heals but the pain doesn't quit. In fact, the pain seems to get worse with time, not better. Your leg feels like it's on fire and it keeps you up at night. If you're suffering from pain like this that seems out of proportion to your injury and ongoing, you may have a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome. Unfortunately, this condition is somewhat rare–which means that you may face a struggle getting ongoing benefits paid for by workers' comp. Here's what to do:
1. Get a proper diagnosis.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Aside from the chronic pain, you may also experience swelling at the site of the injury and problems with blood circulation. You may or may not have actual damage to one of your major nerves. Studies indicate that sufferers report going through an average of five doctors before they get a proper diagnosis.
That proper diagnosis is important because it makes it easier for the judge to recognize that the condition you're suffering from is real and medically recognized, if not totally understood. That reduces the appearance that you're trying to play the system somehow.
2.) Keep a pain journal.
In order to establish the extent of the problems that you have with RSD/CRPS, you need to show the judge in your workers' comp claim some specifics that will help your case:
- As detailed a recollection as you have of the event that started the pain. RSD/CRPS can start from traumatic events, like broken bones, but they can also start from stressful internal conditions, like heart attacks.
- Dates and times when you experience flares of the pain, including the sensation that you feel. Is the pain sharp, burning, aching, or tearing? Is it different in the daytime than it is at night?
- The response of the pain to different types of activity, such as standing, walking, sitting. Does it get worse in hot weather? Does the painful area swell after too much movement?
- What other symptoms are you suffering? Some patients suffer problems with their bowels or bladder, others experience swelling in the affected limb or limbs, which can further limit your activities and movements.
Not only does this information give the judge a great day-to-day picture of how the RDS/CRPS affects you, it also provides you with a handy record that you can use a touchstone should you have to testify in front of the judge.
3. Get an attorney.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of workers' comp abuses out there, which makes it hard on employees who are legitimately injured to make a successful claim. In particular, when you have a condition that is somewhat rare or unusual, and it isn't something that someone can see just by looking at you, employers get reluctant to pay the benefits you're due.
An attorney can help you frame the information on your rare condition in an easy-to-understand format and illustrate for your employer why the pain alone prevents you from working.
For more information on how an attorney can help, contact a law firm like Law Offices of Terry Katz & Associates. You don't have to go it alone.