Published: 24 July 2017
Author: Michael Burdess
Law can potentially help sufferers of chronic pain
National Pain Week starts today and runs until 30 July. It is convened by Chronic Pain Australia and is dedicated to reducing the social and other barriers to living with chronic pain.
What is chronic pain?
Pain is the body’s way of signalling something is wrong – whether it is cutting a finger or pulling a muscle. However, chronic pain is when the body continues to hurt weeks, months or even years after injury. Doctors often describe chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 6 months or longer.
Chronic pain is debilitating as it negatively impacts day-to-day life, mental health and relationships.
The most common conditions associated with chronic pain are back injuries, headaches, and joint pain. Chronic pain can also be caused by diseases or disorders, such as chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, nerve damage, shingles or complex regional pain syndrome.
Living with chronic pain
Until you have experienced chronic pain, it is challenging to comprehend its complexity.
The ABC program, ‘Australian Story’, recently featured a story on Nikki Gemmel who found it hard to listen to her elderly mother when she talked about euthanasia as a way out of her debilitating chronic pain.
This story highlights the torment that people are feeling and the lengths people will go to try and relieve the pain that has become part of their every day.
The mental and financial costs
Chronic pain patients will all tell you that a good bill of health is priceless.
Meanwhile, a recent article in The Australian in May 2017 states: “Osteoarthritis, the most common chronic condition of the joints, affects 2.2 million Australians, and a leading cause of chronic pain, disability and lost productivity in Australia, costing the health system $3.75bn last year and the economy about $22bn a year in lost productivity.
The exact cost of chronic pain to the nation isn’t known.
Legal support and chronic pain
At Stringer Clark, we have seen many clients with chronic pain of varying types, including complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or chronic pain syndrome. There is often not a comprehensive medical diagnosis that gives people an answer as to why they have chronic pain, which can be disheartening. Courts have long grappled with claims of chronic pain syndrome and it can be a difficult concept to explain to a jury.
This doesn’t mean however that people with a diagnosis of CPRS or chronic pain syndrome are barred from seeking compensation for their injuries. It makes sense to seek advice on your options from an experienced lawyer.
For any legal enquires related to work related chronic pain, please call 1800 641 743 to make a no obligation introductory meeting at one of our offices in Ballarat, Warrnambool, Portland, Horsham, Colac, Ararat, Hamilton, Castlemaine and Cobden.
We also encourage people experiencing chronic pain to check out National Pain Week, which has a wealth of resources in relation to living with and treating chronic pain.