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

There are a lot of good things to be said for the state of modern medicine. Unfortunately, there are also many medical conditions that doctors know too little about and treat with too little respect. Perhaps the best examples are the many conditions that result in chronic pain without a clear, treatable cause. Common examples include lupus, fibromyalgia and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Disorders characterized by chronic pain can make life very difficult, and not just for the obvious reasons. Individuals who suffer chronic-pain conditions often have a hard time getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, and many struggle to even be correctly diagnosed by a doctor.

Sadly, patients complaining of pain with no obvious cause (like a broken bone) are often greeted with skepticism by physicians. With fibromyalgia, for instance, there is no single test that can confirm the presence of the disease. Much of the diagnosis is based on self-reported symptoms. This is a problem for many physicians, who tend to disregard what cannot be easily proven through medical testing.

Patients may also be met with skepticism because of the prescription painkiller epidemic. The abuse of opioid painkillers is now so common that chronic-pain patients are frequently dismissed as drug seekers.

Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion. We’ll talk about some of the challenges of getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits when suffering from a condition characterized by chronic pain. We’ll also discuss some coping strategies for day-to-day living.

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

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