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Chronic-pain conditions & the struggle for SSDI benefits: Part II

Earlier this week, we started talking about diseases characterized by chronic pain without a clear and treatable cause. Those who suffer from migraines, for instance, may be able to experiment with various medications to treat and prevent these debilitating headaches. But other conditions like lupus, fibromyalgia and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome often produce chronic pain without an apparent cause and with limited treatment options.

Many individuals who suffer from these debilitating conditions eventually become unable to continue working a job. Chronic pain, constant fatigue and a host of other symptoms can quickly overwhelm the body and make it impossible to be productive on a daily basis. Sadly, however, Americans living with these “invisible” pain conditions often have their Social Security Disability Insurance applications denied.

Our last post mentioned the difficulties of diagnosing conditions like fibromyalgia, because no one test can confirm a diagnosis. Moreover, many of the symptoms are self-reported, which is why they are sometimes called “invisible” diseases.

For these same reasons, Americans suffering from fibromyalgia and similar conditions often have their SSDI applications rejected. Because a diagnosis can be so hard to pin down, SSDI applicants may not have supporting medical documentation strong enough to “prove” their case. The good news is that an experienced Social Security Disability attorney understands these difficulties and can often help patients obtain the necessary paperwork and supporting evidence.

If you live with a condition characterized by chronic pain, life comes with a lot of hardship and uncertainty. Thankfully, there are many lifestyle changes and resources that can help. You should check with your doctor about what may and may not be helpful to you, but many patients have found the following things helpful:

  • Regular exercise appropriate for your medical condition
  • Gentle forms of full-body exercise such as yoga and swimming
  • Support groups for people with your condition (in-person and online)
  • Dietary changes focusing on unprocessed, organic and anti-inflammatory foods
  • Carefully prescribed and monitored medication including opioid painkillers and perhaps antidepressants
  • Meditation
  • Changes in routine to allow frequent rest time during the day

An SSD attorney may not be able to help you with the list of resources above, but they are ready, willing and able to help you present a strong case for why you qualify to receive SSDI benefits. Once you are approved and receiving benefits, you may find it easier to focus on your health, symptom management and regaining quality of life.

Source: PBS Newshour, "Can antidepressants offer hope to those suffering chronic pain?" Ruth Tam, July 9, 2014

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