What Are Workers Compensation Pain Cases?

Workers compensation is a form of insurance provided by an employer to make available replacement wages and medical coverage in cases where employees have been injured in the course of employment, in exchange for which, the employee is unable to sue the employer for any potential negligence. Although the employee may suffer personal injury, a personal injury claim may not be made to recover damages for any type of negligence once the individual has made a workers compensation claim.

Workers compensation pain cases can include aggravation of any preexisting condition or any injury that was sustained on the company property or during a business sponsored event. Any injuries to an employee caused by assets owned by the company, such as mechanical equipment, also falls under workers compensation.

Employees may suffer from a variety of different injuries that result in pain, either acute or chronic in nature. Chronic pain, or that pain that lasts longer than three months, is not uncommon when employees experience either an acute injury or an overuse injury that results in a workers compensation pain case. Related to the legalities of treatment for a workers compensation pain case, clinicians are warned by the Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) from the United States Department Of Labor to keep non-work-related medical information out of workers compensation medical records.

Causes Of Pain Most Often Related To Workers Compensation Claims

There are several major causes for workers compensation pain cases, or work-related injuries, that can result in either acute or chronic pain. The cause is often related to the type of work the employee is contracted to do. Common causes include car accidents when the employee is performing work-related duties, injuries caused by negligence from a coworker, lift injuries at work, carpal tunnel syndrome, upper back pain, or injuries related to working with dangerous mechanical equipment.

Although less common, employees who suffer from injury following workplace violence or because they were a victim of crime at work also fall under workers compensation. Some of the leading causes of workers compensation pain cases are a result of injuries related to bending, climbing, reaching, or standing. Each of these is related to overuse injuries, or chronic movements performed in biomechanically incorrect positions, which place undue stress on joints and muscles.

Overuse injuries are often the result of repetitive micro-traumas to the joints or tendons. Common examples are carpal tunnel, tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), rotator cuff tendonitis, jumpers knee (patellar tendinitis), or Achilles tendinitis. Overuse injuries can happen when the body is not given enough time to repair following activity or when the individual uses poor technique, increasing the workload on the joint. Only slight changes in form are required in order to reduce the potential for an overuse injury.

Employees who have imbalances between strength and flexibility in the joint may also increase the potential of suffering from pain related to a workers compensation claim. Long hours at a computer keyboard, lifting and bending, pulling boxes from overhead shelves, pushing wheelbarrows, and chronic squatting can each result in the type of overuse injuries described.

Treatments For Workers Compensation Pain Cases

Treatments for workers compensation pain cases will be related to the initial injury. In most cases, workers compensation insurance will cover the medical expenses plus payment for any future loss of earnings, repayment for any lost earnings, as well as vocational rehabilitation and therapy should the employee not be able to return to his or her previous position. Workers compensation will also pay benefits to dependents of workers who were killed during employment.

The clinical management of pain following a workers compensation injury is challenging both physically and psychologically. Physical pain is often addressed using prescription medication. The rate of prescriptions for opioid drugs and other non-narcotic pain medications continues to rise each year. Narcotics account for 25% of all prescription medication used for chronic pain in workers compensation pain cases. More than 45% of those cases involve oxycodone as the active ingredient.

Patients in workers compensation pain cases also frequently benefit from physical therapy, which helps with pain management through manipulation, behavior modification, electrotherapy, and superficial heating or cooling of the skin. Physical therapy helps the patient strengthen the muscles surrounding the injured joint, and also relearn proper body form to reduce the potential of future injury.

Depending on the type of injury being treated, treatment may also include joint injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, or in very severe cases, surgery.

Research has also identified that positive interactions with both the insurance company and with physicians will influence the outcome of workers compensation pain cases. Negative interactions with these professionals can contribute to the development of secondary psychosocial consequences, including depression and anxiety, which adversely affect physical recovery and rehabilitation.


Workers compensation is a form of insurance provided by an employer to replace wages and cover medical costs when an employee has been injured during employment. Workers compensation pain cases can encompass a variety of different injuries, either acute or chronic in nature, with a variety of different causes.

Treatments for workers compensation pain cases will depend on the nature and cause of the injury. Clinical management for pain will include both physical and psychological treatment. Research has identified that negative interactions with either the insurance company or the physician can contribute to the development of secondary psychosocial consequences, including anxiety and depression. These negative psychosocial consequences adversely affect physical recovery and rehabilitation.


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