Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims
A workplace injury can have many outcomes. Ideally, with appropriate rest and medical treatment, workers recover from their injuries and return to work. In other cases, workers may suffer ongoing disability and pain, and may never return to their previous capacity.
In the case of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS, a complete recovery may not be possible. CRPS results in progressive and often unbearable pain.
According to a 2021 Frontiers Pain Research article, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome affects adults aged 40 to 70. Although the lower limbs can be affected by CRPS, the upper limbs are the most prevalent cases. CRPS can develop into a chronic condition and affect daily life activities.
If you currently suffer from CRPS, contact the South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Steinberg Law Firm today. We can determine workers’ compensation benefits eligibility and develop a proper treatment plan for you. For more information on how we can help you, contact us at (843) 720-2800.
What Is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?
Complex regional pain syndrome, referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a type of chronic pain that develops after an injury. According to a 2017 study, there are between 5 to 25 cases of CRPS per 100,000 people each year. What makes CRPS notable is that the amount of pain an individual will experience is not proportionate to the pain caused by the initial injury. The pain associated with CRPS is much greater than the initial pain experienced after the accident.
Complex regional pain syndrome is severe, continuous pain that may last for months, years, or indefinitely. Usually, CRPS affects the arms, hands, legs, or feet. However, CRPS is not as well-understood as other chronic pain conditions for a few reasons. First, although Weir Mitchell first diagnosed CRPS during the civil war, there is not a large body of research around CRPS and the condition’s causes. Second, the symptoms of CRPS tend to vary significantly between individuals. There is also anecdotal data suggesting that symptoms of CRPS change over time, making it more difficult for medical professionals to study the disorder. Finally, there is no diagnostic test for CRPS. Typically, doctors diagnose CRPS after ruling out other possible conditions by performing the following tests:
- Blood tests,
- Rheumatologic tests,
- Thermography, and
- Electrodiagnostic testing.
However, because there is no test specifically for CRPS, it is usually only after doctors cannot identify any other possible condition that someone is diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
While the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome vary, they often include the following:
- Changes in skin color;
- Changes in the texture of the skin;
- Continuous burning or throbbing pain, typically in the arms, legs, hands, or feet;
- Decreased range of motion;
- Muscle atrophy;
- Muscle spasms, tremors, weakness;
- Joint stiffness, swelling, and damage;
- Sensitivity to cold or touch;
- Swelling near the pain area; and
- Unexplained changes in hair and nail growth.
Stanford Medicine’s Division of Pain Medicine suggests that an untreated case of CRPS can result in the tendons and muscles contracting. When this occurs, the muscles tighten permanently. At this point, the condition is irreversible and will require a proper treatment plan. The best treatment plan will vary from person to person. It is best to discuss with your doctor whether physical therapy, surgery, a spinal cord stimulator, anesthetics, or medications are the best solution for your unique situation.
Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available for a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Diagnosis?
Generally, workers who get injured on the job or develop an occupational illness are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. While there is no requirement to prove that anyone else was responsible for your injuries, you must be able to prove that your injury or condition was related to your employment.
Employees diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome following a workplace accident can be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These claims can be challenging when labeling CRPS as a workplace injury.
If you are injured in a workplace accident and begin to recover, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will attempt to reduce your benefits. If several months pass, and you develop symptoms of CRPS, it can be challenging to convince the insurance company that the pain you are experiencing relates to your on-the-job injuries. The insurance company may claim that your pain results from something unrelated to your work.
Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for CRPS is not impossible; it requires substantial documentation and experience with the South Carolina workers’ compensation system. After a workplace accident, those suffering from CRPS should reach out to an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer for immediate assistance. Our compassionate attorneys understand CRPS and know it is not in your head – the condition does exist and is extremely debilitating.
Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your CRPS Diagnosis with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The founder of the Steinberg Law Firm helped draft the original version of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with individualized representation that we customize to their unique needs.
If you were injured at work and now face constant, severe pain, it may be due to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. While you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits above and beyond those for your initial injury, you should not count on the insurance company voluntarily approving your claim. At the Steinberg Law Firm, our dedicated team of workplace injury lawyers has been helping injured workers obtain the benefits they need and deserve for almost a century.