Chronic pain conditions may involve the central and peripheral nervous systems (including the sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous systems) and musculoskeletal system. A pain disorder may be either traumatic, non-traumatic, or acquired. Pain may appear with no apparent cause in many people. A typical pain disorder is characterized by burning pain and abnormalities in the sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous systems.
Conditions that can cause chronic pain include (but are not limited to):
- Benign chronic pain syndrome
- Cancer pain
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder (CMT) or hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy
- Chest wall pain syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)
- Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
- Frozen Shoulder
- Headaches, including Cluster, Tension and Migraine Headaches
- Heart disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Knee Pain
- Lyme Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Pinched Nerve
- Post laminectomy syndrome (aka Failed Back Syndrome)
- Post-surgical chronic pain
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
- Shoulder Pain
- Small Fiber Neuropathy
- Spine pain, including slipped/bulging herniated discs causing low back pain
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Diagnosing and Treating a Chronic Pain Disorder
In making a diagnosis of a pain disorder, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and may order a diagnostic exam such as an X-Ray, MRI or electromyogram (EMG). The doctor may ask you if you suffered a recent injury, and gather all the information possible about the injury. He or she may then note if there is swelling or excessive accumulation of fluid in your tissues (edema) or abnormal sweat gland activity near the site of the pain. A person with a pain disorder often has muscle weakness and atrophy, and swollen, stiff joints. A neurological exam is usually warranted to look for severe pain as a response to a mild stimulus. Your doctor may order other tests to rule out conditions.
In areas affected by a pain disorder, the skin and deep tissues can be red, abnormally warm and painful to the touch. A person with a pain disorder may experience physical changes such as excessive sweating or flushing, swelling of tissues, shiny skin, severe burning pain, and changes in the muscles, joints, or bones. Other symptoms include tremors, twitching and muscle weakness.
Neuropsychological tests can be administered to help to identify how or where a claimant is suffering cognitively, and effective utilization of such testing can help demonstrate a claimant’s impairment.
Because the cause of and cure for many pain disorders is unknown, medical treatment tends to center on controlling the pain and maintaining flexibility and mobility. Treatment modalities generally combine medications, physical therapy, nerve blocks, and psychosocial support.
Proving Disability Due to a Diagnosis of a Pain Disorder
Proving disability due to a pain disorder can be difficult because there are no specific criteria for approval. You should submit evidence as to whether or not and to what extent your pain can be alleviated by medical treatment, what treatments you have pursued, how you have responded to treatment, and how your pain limits your ability to function.
For example, your medical records may show that your pain disorder has caused you to suffer gross anatomical deformity, such as subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, and/or instability. Or, your records may show you have chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joints. In these types of instances, you may submit MRIs, CT scans, or X-rays that show the destruction or abnormality of the affected joints or bones.
Watch Out For Improperly Applied Mental Health Limitations
If your chronic pain leads you to experience symptoms of a mental health disorder such as depression, your insurer may try to subject your claim to a mental health limitation. This means that benefits would only be payable for a limited time, even if you are still disabled. You should carefully review the language of your policy to determine if a mental health limitation could apply to your claim. A disability lawyer can assist you in evaluating your unique circumstances and help you appeal a wrongful termination of benefits.
Ortiz Law Firm Provides Aggressive Representation to Long Term Disability Claimants
If you’re living with a debilitating pain disorder that’s preventing you from work, you could potentially qualify for long term disability benefits. Establishing total disability based on a pain condition is challenging and many valid claims are denied. You should seriously consider obtaining the assistance of an attorney with experience handling Long Term Disability cases to assemble your appeal. If you would like to talk to an experienced disability lawyer, call us at (888) 321-8131. We would be happy to evaluate your case and discuss how we can help you through the appeal process.