Chronic Pain: Quantifying the Immeasurable

Woman’s back and neck suffering from chronic pain

If an accident leaves you lying in traction in the hospital, you will receive an outpouring of sympathy.  For months following, as you walk around on crutches, it will be obvious to the world that you are suffering.  In many ways, the road is more difficult when your injuries are not objectively obvious.  Neck and back pain, headaches, fatigue and general malaise are not easily identifiable.  As such, the world around you will all be suggesting you “get over it” and stop complaining.  Sometimes, even your doctor will take that position.

If you are suffering from chronic pain as a result of an accident, it is up to your lawyer to understand and paint a clear picture of your condition to the other side.  How is this done?

Complex chronic pain conditions have many components:

1. Pain

At the risk of stating the obvious, one of the most limiting features of pain is the pain itself.  Different people react differently to pain in terms of both the tolerated threshold and the way pain is displayed.  The bottom line is that the experience of pain is as individual as individuals themselves.  It is up to your lawyer to use experts to gain understanding of how pain is affecting you and better yet, to be able to effectively convey that understanding to the opposing side in your lawsuit.  In some cases, we will step beyond the assistance of your treating physicians and look to a psychiatrist or psychologist to effectively explain your personal perception of pain.

2. Physical Function

Chronic pain causes a decrease in performance.  In some cases, range of movement for certain activities is pain prohibited.  In others, although activities are possible, they are limited by fatigue.  Your ability to function in the face of ongoing pain is an important part of prognosticating your ability to carry on with work, childcare, and household activities.  Your physical function will be measured by a Functional Capacity Evaluation (administered by an occupational therapist or physiotherapist with specialized training in the administration and reporting of an FCE).

3. Emotional Function

This is an area frequently overlooked in a lawsuit.  Often chronic pain is wearing on your emotional well-being.  Often, longer-term pain and the perception that “no one understands” creates emotional malaise or even depression.  Poor emotional health on top of chronic pain may be very debilitating.

4. Treatment

Treatment options may be limited or you may find everything you try ineffective.  You may find yourself a serial massage, acupuncture or chiropractic patient in an effort to simply make it through the week.  It is your lawyer’s job to understand what treatment is assisting and to ensure coverage for ongoing treatment forms part of your claim.

5. Pain Over Time

Over time, it may become more difficult to ignore your pain.  In many cases, we see injured people work through daily pain and headaches believing things will improve.  Sometimes things do improve.  However, we know if they do not, it may become harder and harder to keep working through.   Before you settle any claim, you should have a realistic picture of whether you can continue to cope for the long run or whether you are going to have to slack off or even retire early.

Chronic Pain Lawyers in Edmonton

When your pain is constant and there is no foreseeable relief, you need to have a lawyer who understands the far-reaching impact the pain will have on your enjoyment of life and on your ability to perform at work and home.  At Robinson LLP, we have represented thousands of pain sufferers over almost 25 years.  We understand the importance of listening.  By hearing what you have to say, we can effectively translate your ongoing pain into a settlement that accounts for the past, present and future ramifications of your suffering.  Contact us for a free consultation. We’re here to help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *