Q: I sustained a back injury when I was hit by a lorry and my car rolled over. After 12 months of physiotherapy I am still in severe pain and off work. I have had numerous x-rays and MRI scans but doctors cannot find anything wrong. Now a consultant has told me I have chronic pain disorder. Is this classed as an ‘injury’ for which I can claim compensation?
A: Usually chronic pain starts with an acute illness or injury. If the pain lasts longer than three to six months it is considered to be chronic pain. Whilst the sufferer experiences very real symptoms of pain, doctors are unable to locate the exact cause.
Normally once an injury is resolved the pain ceases. With chronic pain, the nerve signals originally turned on by pain sensors in the area of the injury keep firing, even once the injury is healed. This results in the brain continuing to process the signals and sending out messages of pain to the body.
Chronic pain conditions can include Chronic Pain Syndrome, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They can affect a sufferer’s daily life, keeping them from doing things they want and need to do, for example, in your case; keeping you from work. It can also affect a person’s self-esteem and make them feel angry, depressed, anxious and frustrated.
Because they cannot diagnose the pain cause precisely, doctors sometimes disbelieve the patient or disregard other possible reasons for the pain. However, a chronic pain condition is a serious diagnosis that requires expert treatment and expert legal representation. These conditions can have detrimental consequences and as your condition has been caused by an accident which was not your fault, you may well be entitled to make a legal claim for compensation. However, the complexities of chronic pain claims require specialist consideration by a well-qualified solicitor.