What is Chronic Pain?

22 March 2017

By Personal Injury Solicitor Beverly Hicks

Chronic Pain is pain which persists for an extended period of time, usually longer than 12 weeks. The International Association for the Study of Pain describes pain as 'an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage'. The Association also states that the pain is always subjective (meaning it's personal to you) and can be experienced without any physical stimulus.

Different Types of Chronic Pain

According to the Journal of Observational Medicine, there are different types of Chronic Pain:

  • Myofascial Pain, which is pain arising from soft tissues. One example of this is whiplash injuries whereby a road accident causes trauma to the neck and/or back
  • Neuropathic pain, which is pain arising from an injury to the nerves
  • Other pain which may or may not be associated with the nerves, such as pain which spreads following a trauma to other regions of the body

We can clarify some pain into known syndromes or conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Somatoform Disorder and Chronic Pain. A doctor who specialises in this area of medicine, along with various tests, can help to provide a diagnosis for the pain symptoms.

These types of pain conditions are now documented as recognisable conditions and are classified in the Judicial College Guidelines; the guidelines which Judges use to assess the level or bracket of compensation a Claimant should receive.

Causes of Chronic Pain

According to the law, if fault for the accident or incident has already been established, it then needs to be established that the pain condition was caused or arose from the defendant's fault. In this context the Claimant only needs to prove that the accident or incident has caused or made a material contribution to the condition.

However, it is the cause of the condition which is usually disputed by defendants, who often point towards other factors which they consider has caused the condition to arise. Ultimately it is for medical experts to consider the Claimant's condition and assess whether the pain condition has been caused by the accident or incident. Pain Consultants, Rheumatologists and Psychiatrists can assist with the diagnosis of the condition, and can offer various options regarding treatment as well as the prospects for recovery.

Chronic Pain Treatment

The aim of Chronic Pain treatment is to improve the level of function. Depending on the condition diagnosed, treatment can consist of a multidisciplinary approach, often involving psychiatric or psychological treatment. This might involve cognitive behavior therapy, medication and physical therapy.

Making a Personal Injury Claim

When making a personal injury claim for Chronic Pain there are potential difficulties which may arise as defendants often tend to challenge the reliability of the Claimant. There may be a suggestion that there are other issues which have caused the pain condition or that the Claimant is not injured at all.

The defendant's Lawyers will often obtain their own medical reports, and may also carry out surveillance on the Claimant. This surveillance evidence is intended to downplay the extent of the Claimant's symptoms or to persuade the Court that he/she is not suffering from such a condition.

However, it's important to note that people who are truly suffering from persistent pain conditions are entitled to compensation, especially given the detrimental effect it can have on their lives.

If you have developed Chronic Pain as a result of an accident and would like to know more about claiming compensation, our Personal Injury Solicitors can help you.

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