workers comp for fibromyalgiaDo you wake up every morning exhausted after you know you got a good night’s sleep? Are you so tired that you can’t move after working all day? Or do you have inexplicable pain in different parts of your body that make it difficult to cope with your day-to-day activities? If so, you may have developed fibromyalgia, a life-altering consequence of a workplace injury. For many workers who suffer with this, the fibromyalgia can be more debilitating than their original injury. However, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your medical bills and lost wages.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disorder where the person experiences widespread pain in various parts of his body and is often accompanied by fatigue and sleep, memory, and emotional problems. Women are much more likely to develop this condition than men.

Researchers believe that fibromyalgia affects the way people’s brains process pain signals and increases their feelings of pain. One of the most perplexing things about fibromyalgia is that doctors are uncertain as to what causes it. Some possible causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Infections
  • Surgery
  • Physical or emotional trauma such as from a car, slip and fall, or workplace accident or post-traumatic stress disorder—which can also result from a workplace injury

Even though the exact cause is unknown, fibromyalgia is a recognized medical problem, and workers who develop it may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employees in any industry are vulnerable to developing this debilitating disorder as they can suffer a trauma causing injuries in a vehicle, slip and fall, or other workplace accident depending on their jobs. Employees who could suffer with this include:

  • Teachers
  • Office workers
  • Hospital employees
  • Construction workers
  • Factory workers
  • Forklift operators
  • Truck drivers
  • Sales persons
  • Retail workers

Do You Suffer From These Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

People who develop fibromyalgia suffer with a wide-range of symptoms. These can include all or some of the following:

  • Chronic, widespread pain that is often described as a dull ache, throbbing, burning, shooting, or stabbing and is widespread
  • Symptoms lasting for three months or longer
  • Muscle spasms, pain, or tightness
  • Moderate to severe fatigue and a decreased level of energy
  • Difficulties with memory, concentration, and the completion of simply mental tasks—also known as the “fibro fog”
  • Difficulties sleeping, insomnia, or waking up tired even after sleeping eight hours or more
  • Being stiff after waking or being in the same position for long periods of time
  • Irritable bowel syndrome with symptoms such as bloating, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
  • Jaw or facial tenderness
  • Headaches—including migraines
  • Unusual sensitivity to light, smells, noise, food, or certain medications
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Numbness or tingling in the person’s hands, legs, hands, feet, or face
  • Feeling of swelling in the person’s hands or feet when there is no actual swelling present
  • Reduced ability to exercise and more muscle pain after exercising

The Challenges of Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

In the past, doctors would check 18 specific parts of a person’s body for pain known as the “tender point test” and rely on the patient’s description of symptoms to diagnose fibromyalgia. Currently, doctors look to see if a person has widespread pain—defined as below and above the waist and on both sides of his body—that has lasted for three months with no other apparent medical reason. In addition, doctors can do blood tests to rule out other conditions that could have similar symptoms.

However, there is no definitive test for this disorder and much of the diagnosis of fibromyalgia relies on the worker’s statements as to his symptoms. As a result, it can be more challenging to convince a workers’ compensation insurance company or the doctor they select to treat employees that an injured worker is really suffering with this condition.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. An employee could suffer with the pain and other symptoms for the rest of her life. Treatments like medication and mental health counseling can be expensive, but can help a person cope better with the chronic pain and life changes.

How Workers’ Comp Could Help

If you developed fibromyalgia after a workplace injury, you may need long-term medical care and compensation for your lost wages—maybe permanently. You will most likely have to fight with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to obtain the benefits you are entitled to. These cases can be extremely challenging, and you will need the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. I have been fighting to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for people like you for over 20 years. Call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can assist you.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer