Fibromyalgia ? What is it?
Fibromyalgia (FM) or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a little known condition, which affects a large number of people.
It is in fact a musculoskeletal disorder, causing pain and/or fatigue. Fibromyalgia literally means pain in the fibrous tissues of the body.
The affects of Fibromyalgia can vary from person to person and from time to time. The cause is still unknown, but it is a chronic condition, which has a serious impact on peoples lives, upon sufferers lives, and on the lives of their families.
There is no effective cure, although some sufferers respond better than others with treatment. It can be very unpredictable.
Although many sufferers develop Fibromyalgia “spontaneously” (i.e. without any obvious trigger) many sufferers as a result of traumatic injury, or severe psychological stress.
It is a much misunderstood condition, and any sufferer who has contracted the condition as a result of traumatic injury, should ideally be sure that their lawyer has a fair degree of knowledge and understanding of the condition, be experienced in handling such cases, and has suitable skill and experience to handle a complex injury claim.
If we represent you in connection with a claim causing Fibromyalgia, we will endeavour to ensure that you have the best advice from consultant rheumatologists and/or pain specialists, and in certain cases expert opinion and/or advice from a psychologist or psychiatrist, with specialist interest in pain conditions.
Other Chronic Pain Conditions
There are many different conditions which fall under the title of “chronic pain”, including Fibromyalgia which is dealt with under a separate notation.
The word “chronic” means a condition which persists for a considerable period of time, perhaps indefinitely, as opposed to “acute”, which is a pain that lasts for any (relatively) short period of time. Chronic pain conditions can arise as a result of many different causes, and have many different effects. Diagnosis may vary between doctors.
However, a chronic pain condition generally speaking one which lasts beyond six months, can be aggravated by underlying conditions such as arthritis, stress, etc, and which can be caused by physical injury, or at least triggered by it. There are often strong psychological symptoms (such as depression) as well. Diagnosis such as Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS), Causalgia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), Post Traumatic Syndrome (PTS), Sudeck’s Atrophy and various other conditions can be triggered by trauma.
Such conditions may be difficult not only for the medical team, but also for the lawyer. Therefore, you need to ensure that the person representing your claim has good knowledge and understanding of the effect of this condition; how debilitating it can be; and know suitable experts in the different fields, not only to maximise your legal entitlement by way of a claim for damages, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) to ensure that you have the best advice and recommendations including access to appropriate and experienced experts.
Chronic Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may occur as a result of trauma, and can be very debilitating. Often, the condition may arise due to a medical condition (for example a viral condition) and chronic fatigue can also be a symptom linked to other conditions, such as Fibromyalgia, chronic pain conditions (see above); head or a neurological injury; or a psychiatric condition. There are however rare cases where this is not so, and such rare cases need to be handled by an experienced representative in this field.
Psychological/psychiatric disorders (including Post-traumatic Stress disorder)
Accidents may not only be physically very painful, they can have serious and sometimes life changing impact upon the victim.
Whereas a broken leg for example can usually be easily diagnosed and treated, and a full and swift recovery generally expected, that is not the case necessarily with a psychological or psychiatric reaction to injury.
Often, the victim him or herself is not even aware of the impact has had upon them psychologically, until some time later.
Appropriate diagnosis and treatment can be long delayed and often very lacking, under the NHS. Much will depend upon the region you live and the availability of access to suitable services.
A good and experienced personal injury lawyer will have in mind the psychological impact the accident may have had, rather than just the physical.
Your lawyer will spend (in all probability) much more time discussing the accident and its effect with you, than your GP. He may therefore often be in a better position to pick up the signals of a psychological reaction much sooner and perhaps make suggestions to guide you in the right direction for treatment (although it must be said that many clients often reject the suggestion of a psychological injury, at least at first).
There can be a number of factors that cause a psychological reaction:
For example, the sheer horror of being involved in or even witnessing an accident can have a serious impact; pain, absence from work, loss of employment and loss of income can have a serious impact on self-esteem and financial standing. Bills have to be paid, families have to be supported. It is hardly surprising therefore that many people suffer a psychological reaction, when faced with these problems and which can devise to irritability, verbal and even physical aggression, low mood, loss of enjoyment, life, and depression.
A skilled person will realise these things, and will consider how he can help you and your claim in bringing matters forward.
Often, such conditions will be associated with panic attacks, agoraphobia, and isolation. They are, however, all treatable, particularly if the symptoms are seen and dealt with early. Sometimes, it may be with antidepressants or similar medication; sometimes with cognitive behavioural therapy or other forms of counselling; sometimes with the help or at least over sight of a consultant psychiatrist particularly one with knowledge and experience of pain related psychological reaction.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD generally speaking is a severe form of anxiety disorder, generally after experiencing or witnessing a serious traumatic event, involving the threat of serious personal injury or death.
PTSD is most commonly associated in the public mind with soldiers returning from war, or emergency personnel attending horrific incidents, fires, or scenes of violence.
However, it is also often a factor in severe road traffic accident cases, work place accidents or similar. They can also occur as a result of an assault, or as a result of some form of abuse.
Avoidance Strategies: this may include:-
· Places, people or things that remind you of the incident; being unable to remember aspects of the incident;
· Feeling numb emotionally;
· Feeling as though you don’t care about anything;
· A feeling of detachment;
· Loss of interest in activities that you would normally enjoy;
· Feeling of hopelessness and of having no future;
· Keeping your moods and thoughts very much to yourself, instead of sharing them with friends or loved ones.
Arousal: this can include:-
· Being easily startled or frightened;
· Having an exaggerated response to such things;
· Feeling angry or irritable, often over trivial things;
· Difficulty with concentration or memory;
· Feeling hype-vigilant (more acutely aware of things).
This list of course is not exhaustive, and different individuals will suffer different symptoms.
Whatever the psychological condition you suffer, you do need a skilled and experienced lawyer, who can recognise these problems, and identify and recognise the best way forward to help you manage your condition within the context of the claim.
It can be problematic that some conditions (particularly PTSD) can develop many years after the trigger incident, by which time the case may be settled as it will then be too late to claim, it is very important that you speak freely and frankly to your lawyer, so that he/she understands what you are going through, possibly long before you do.