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What If I’m Injured at Work and The Level of Pain That I’m Experiencing Is Greater Than One Would Expect?

First, it’s important to understand that pain is a medical issue and should be discussed with your doctor. What if your doctor isn’t listening? Attorneys often see injured workers with a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Disorder (CRPS), formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). It is a neurological disorder and one of the main symptoms is excruciating pain. Typically, once the pain has manifested, it tends to get worse over time. It’s often seen in an extremity injury or sometimes after surgery. For example, after the initial injury to the hand, foot, arm, or a leg, the injured worker experiences pain far greater than one would expect for that type of injury. Injured workers who suffer from this syndrome find it extremely hard to work or return to work. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney, on behalf of the injured worker with an accepted claim, will make sure the insurance company covers medical care, Temporary Disability benefits during the healing phase of the injury, Permanent Disability benefits if there is any whole person impairment, medical mileage, and a supplemental job displacement voucher if the injured worker can’t return to their usual and customary occupation.

Treating Complex Regional Pain Disorder (CRPS) often falls outside of the insurance company’s utilization review department’s book of averages that determine the authorization of treatment. The insurance company is certainly not going to discuss this diagnosis with a Medical Legal Evaluator. The insurance company often denies these types of injuries to save money. In a situation involving CRPS, an injured worker often benefits from a team of professionals, coordinated by their workers’ compensation attorney, to counter the insurance company’s tendency to focus on saving money and not the welfare of the injured worker. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is familiar with Complex Regional Pain Disorder and will know where to send the injured worker for their Medical Legal Evaluation. For example, often in these cases, it would help the injured worker to get proper treatment if they were seen by an orthopedist and possibly a neurologist. Your attorney will know the good doctors that are familiar with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

The American Medical Association’s Guide to Whole Person Impairment has a list of factors to consider when a doctor is making a diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. According to specialists in this syndrome, all these factors/symptoms manifest differently at the initial phase of the injury and need not be present in the initial phase of the injury. Because of this, your workers’ compensation attorney will work in tandem with medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of this serious disorder. Because of the difficulty to prove this diagnosis, your workers’ compensation attorney will request the needed additional diagnostic testing to confirm your diagnosis, e.g., electromyography, an MRI, nerve conduction studies, and X-rays.

The hallmark of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, according to the American Medical Association’s Guide to Whole Person Impairment is a characteristic burning pain that is present without stimulation or movement, that occurs beyond the territory of a single peripheral nerve, and that is disproportionate to the inciting event. One of the diagnostic tests that physicians frequently use is a bone scan.

Though the effects of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can be managed with medications, physical treatment, and physiological support, there is no known cure. If CRPS is addressed properly and timely, symptoms often improve.

If you are an injured worked and a doctor has told you that you have CRPS this is a good time to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney.

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer:

We hope this answers some questions you may have about your workers’ compensation case that involves Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. For any additional questions please call The Law Office of Alice A. Strömbom at 916-444-7557 for your free consultation. We’re here for you.


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