Chronic pain poses a long list of challenges for those who suffer from it. As if the debilitating nature of the pain itself wasn’t enough, the effects of dealing with chronic pain ripple into other areas of a person’s life, creating unforeseen complications that prolong the healing process. Cases of chronic pain stemming from an injury at work throw legal issues into the mix and place a strain on a victim’s family and home life. Stressful work situations then aggravate one’s pain and contribute to a never-ending cycle of disability and depression.

Without proper comprehensive treatment and multidisciplinary care, workers with chronic pain risk losing their livelihoods. A more humane approach to injured workers needs to be implemented, instead of forcing them to worsen their conditions for fear of losing their jobs and the ability to support their families.

Because chronic pain is an invisible condition, it is difficult for non-sufferers to understand or sympathize with those who experience it. But pain is an emotional and mental experience too, and ignoring those aspects contributes to a harmful ideology that delays recovery. Workers suffering from chronic pain deserve fairness and compassion, as that is the only productive way to assist their healing.

Work-Related Injuries

Chronic pain commonly results from work-related injuries. Especially in fields that require consistent manual labor, such as construction, the risk of injury from repetitive movement is high. Chronic low back pain is one of the most common forms and often results from jobs that require heavy lifting. But even jobs that are not physically demanding can result in repetitive strain injuries. For example, office work that requires using keyboards all day often causes joint pain or carpal tunnel syndrome. Almost any type of work involves movement of some sort, and believing that only “hard” work can result in injury is just one of many misconceptions about chronic pain.

Accidents in the workplace that require one to take time off then add emotional stress, which has an impact on the time it takes to heal. Anxiety and recovery do not mix well. Pain plus the stress of wondering how to keep one’s life afloat after an injury creates a perfect storm. Far too often, chronic pain results from situations like these.

Because chronic pain is often treated as an illegitimate condition, injured workers return to their jobs before they’ve healed, which only creates more problems. This idea, known as “presenteeism” means that workers, fearful of losing their jobs, return to work before they’re ready and are unable to achieve the same productivity as before. This stigma around chronic pain in the workplace desperately needs to be shifted for the sake of the injured and their livelihoods.

Workers’ Compensation 

Chronic pain drives 80% of the costs in workers’ compensation programs. Though the specifics vary from region to region, injured workers have rights to proper care and recovery time through workers’ compensation. A mindset shift needs to happen to see this issue resolved—workers can’t do their jobs effectively without being given a proper chance to heal, and they can’t heal if they’re plagued by anxiety and stress related to their injuries.

Successful rehabilitation is possible with chronic pain. If you are an injured worker, you deserve a smooth healing process, free from hopelessness. With proper treatment and advocacy, you can take back your life.

At the Institutes of Health, we offer a new dimension for work-related chronic pain. We implement the most advanced and proven guidelines for solving the disability challenge, chronic pain epidemic, and overall cost of claims in the workers’ compensation arena. For more information about the options that are available to you, contact us at info@institutesofhealth.org.