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Obtaining workers' compensation for chronic job-related pain

In our last post, we continued our discussion of work-related chronic pain and the Medical Treatment Guidelines governing treatment of chronic pain. Different guidelines apply for different conditions, including: carpal tunnel syndrome; shoulder and knee injuries; mid and low back injuries; and shoulder injuries.

Medical providers are supposed to be familiar with the Medical Treatment Guidelines and are required to provide care in accordance with the guidelines for requested tests and treatments. Under the Medical Treatment Guidelines, workers with chronic pain are eligible for ongoing maintenance care. To be eligible or ongoing maintenance care, an injured worker must have reached maximum medical improvement and have a permanent disability, and he or she must have experienced a decline in functional status. 

Ongoing maintenance can involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, or chiropractic care, depending on the parts of the body involved. A total of 10 visits per year are allowed, though it is possible to receive extra treatment if a variance is granted. Having an experienced advocate in the workers' compensation process can help ensure that all the necessary documentation is provided and that proper applications are provided for any necessary variances.

Another important aspect of the Medical Treatment Guidelines is pre-authorization, which is required for certain types of treatments. When it comes to narcotics, the Medical Treatment Guidelines offer a general approach which allows for the discretion of medical providers treating injured workers. With respect to this and other aspects of the management of work-related chronic pain, having an advocate can help ensure that an injured worker receives the treatment he or she is entitled to under workers' compensation law.