During the course of your workers’ compensation case, you will probably get asked to report your pain levels and severity of your symptoms several times. You may not realize how these reports can influence your case for benefits.
What Are Pain Reporting and Symptom Severity?
When you speak to medical doctors about your injury, they may ask you how much pain you are in on a scale of one to ten. Also, they may ask you specifically about how much pain each of your injuries cause you. Doctors also break down various symptoms you are experiencing, asking how strong they are. For example, if you have limited range of motion in your arm, the doctor will both test the range of motion and ask which activities you cannot perform without increased pain. Limited range of motion might prevent you from reaching, grasping, or other activities.
What Do the Doctors Do with Pain and Symptom Information?
Both your treating doctor and the independent medical examiner might ask you about your pain levels and severity of symptoms. Your treating doctor can use this information to decide if you need more pain medication or physical therapy, as well as which physical restrictions you should have.
The independent medical examiner may use this information to determine your motivation levels. Studies have found that some people have lower levels of pain yet believe that they are very disabled and will not recover, while others are in terrible pain yet have a strong will to recover. Independent medical examiners often assess workers’ mindsets and motivation compared to their reported pain and symptoms during IMEs. They include the results in their reports.
How Could Pain and Symptoms Affect Your Case for Benefits?
When an IME report includes information about a worker’s low motivation for recovery from an injury, the insurance company will use it against the worker. In other words, the insurance company will try to show that the worker is malingering, faking, or doesn’t want to get better. It will then use the supposed lack of motivation as a reason to deny or discontinue benefits.
As a result, it is very important to accurately report your level of pain and symptoms to both your treating physician and the IME doctor. If you feel strongly motivated to recover from your injuries, you may want to mention that to the IME doctor. If, on the other hand, you are feeling down about your injuries and having trouble completing treatments, speak to your treating physician. He or she may refer you to a counselor or psychologist, as well as potentially adjusting your medications. It’s best for your workers’ comp case to get appropriate medical help so that you can return to work and heal from your injuries.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.