Chronic Pain

 

 

In the UK, 7.8million people live with chronic pain.  50% of them suffer from depression. For people with a long term condition 50% of their loss of quality of life is due to the pain that they live with. In the UK there is a staggering 2.8 year gap between presentation with chronic pain and receiving a satisfactory diagnosis and treatment. [1]

 

The impact of chronic pain conditions is enormous, not only on the sufferer but also on the entire family.  What seems a small to task to many would be impossible for a chronic pain sufferer.  It is difficult to fully understand what it is to live with a chronic pain condition unless it has been experienced.  A common problem that people have with pain is the lack of any test to “prove” the pain and the frequent lack of diagnosis.[2]

 

Many chronic pain conditions are triggered by trauma. The effects of such trauma can far outweigh the initial severity of the trauma and the initial injuries.

Since the case of Bennett v Smith,[3] it has been accepted that the chronic pain condition Fibromyalgia can be triggered by a relatively trivial accident. In that case the Claimant was involved in a minor rear end shunt. She had the classic whiplash symptoms in the cervical and lumbar spine and a resolution was expected within 12 months. However, although the soft tissue injuries settled, she developed widespread pain in sites that had not been involved in the original injury. She was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over 2 years later.

It was possible to show that there was a continuum of pain and that there were other symptoms consistent with the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia that showed a developing pattern to her symptoms up to the point of diagnosis. The trial judge accepted, and it was upheld on appeal, that the accident had caused the Claimant to develop Fibromyalgia.

Since that time, numerous other cases have been brought, the Courts are increasingly prepared to accept that certain individuals suffer relatively minor trauma, but go on to develop debilitating widespread pain conditions far greater than would have been initially expected. 

 



[1] Pain Summit 2011

[2] Pain Summit 2011

[3] 2003 EWHC 1006

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