Pain is usually a significant factor in a disability claim. There could be multiple causes for pain. For example a lot of people suffer from back pain due to a herniated disc, multiple herniations, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, or simply a broken back. Sometimes it is not known what causes the pain. Pain can occur in many parts of the body for many different reasons. Some people that are suffering from severe depression will have wide spread pain throughout their body and not know why. A lot of arthritic conditions will cause extensive pain. Migraines are extremely painful and depending on their frequency and duration can be disabling in and of themselves.
What is important in a pain case is that your medical records reflect your continued complaints of pain. Your doctor’s notes should record where, when, and why (if possible) the pain occurs. I often hear that people will have a constant dull ache and at times the pain becomes worse and travels to different areas. When I am evaluating pain in a Social Security claim I am looking at several factors:
Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
Does the pain stay in one place or does it travel to various areas of your body?
What factors increase the pain? (Such as activity or changes in the weather).
What factors help relieve the pain? (Such as rest, heating pads, or ice packs).
What medications are you taking for pain and what is the medications effect?
What are the limitations as a result of the pain? (Such as how long can you sit, stand or walk comfortably).
Often times in a pain case I will see various attempts to relieve the pain through different types of treatment. Some people will use chiropractic treatment, while others have tried physical therapy. There may be multiple prescription changes as often times the prescribed medication will lose its effectiveness over time. I have seen clients where acupuncture, aqua-therapy, massage therapy and tens units have all failed. There is often pain management therapy, which may or may not include injections, and/or medial branch block injections. What is important to me in a pain case is that your doctors repeatedly document your complaints of pain. I am also evaluating the claim to see the various treatment options that have been tried. While pain can be disabling in and of itself, it is always helpful if there is a diagnosis to confirm the impairment that is causing pain.
These cases are often difficult to prove and I would strongly encourage you not to go in front of an Administrative Law Judge without an experienced attorney. If you would like to discuss your pain case further, please give me at a call at 1-800-248-1729.
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.