You're a hard-working family man with mouths to feed at home, so you work maintenance at Goodyear over in Fayetteville, putting in a hard day's work. A good day is when you're able to bank a few overtime hours and swell your paycheck to cover some extras. That's why you've been ignoring those lower back spasms for months now, hoping fruitlessly that they would go away on their own.
You've been popping over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and Aleve, applying gel patches for pain several times a day just to make it through a shift. But by the time you punch that clock to head home, your lower back muscles are singing the Hallelujah Chorus in high C.
How long can you keep up the pace in such pain?
Pain changes people
When people are coping with chronic pain, they react differently to the world at large. They're irritable, surly, prone to losing their tempers and don't have a lot of patience. Pain makes it harder to focus at the task at hand, meaning that problem-solving at work can become difficult.
If pain goes on for long enough, the stress it brings to the sufferers takes a toll on the people's personalities. They become withdrawn and limit their social contacts simply because they need all of their energy just to meet their work commitments. Depression starts to sink in when people compare the lives they used to enjoy - watching NASCAR races, going to Carolina Panther games, hunting and fishing - with the lives they're reduced to now.
Research even indicates that chronic pain may alter the way their nervous system is mapped. This can affect the way that they process their emotions and make them more prone to depression. They also crave more sleep, but their pain refuses to grant them this respite.
What can a worker in pain do?
The first thing to do is get an accurate diagnosis. There are many things that can cause chronic pain, including some cancers, so it's vital to rule out anything like that. Next, workers should be very detailed about the job duties they must perform. For instance, consider the following:
- Are you walking or standing all day on a concrete floor?
- Is your work physically demanding, requiring that you climb ladders up and down all day or descend into tight spaces to work on machinery or vehicles?
- Are you lifting heavy objects all day long?
If so, your doctor needs to know this in order to take an accurate and complete physical history. This will also tie in your complaints of chronic pain with your employment, which is essential if you decide to file a claim for workers' compensation.
Workers' comp. cases can be complex
Unless there is a catastrophic injury following an on-the-job accident, it can be difficult to link a chronic condition like back pain to your employment. Many Fayetteville laborers and other blue-collar workers find that it's easiest to retain an experienced workers' comp. attorney to handle their claims for benefits and any subsequent disability claims that arise from these work-related injuries.