If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) arising out of a workplace injury, you may be entitled to lump sum compensation.
CRPS is a chronic pain condition that most often affects one limb (arm, leg, hand, or foot) usually after an injury. CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems.
In order for an injured worker’s lump sum compensation entitlements to be assessed under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW), a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) assessment must be conducted by an approved Medico-Legal Specialist. For legitimately diagnosed cases of CRPS, the WPI figure may exceed the threshold (10% for physical injuries), as the assessment involves both the worker’s range of motion and also the impact of any sensory deficits on a worker’s activities/function.
Before a WPI assessment is conducted, certain criteria must be met. CRPS must be diagnosed and verified by more than one physician, and present for at least one year to ensure accuracy of a WPI figure and to permit adequate time to achieve maximum medical improvement. If the diagnosis of CRPS has been present for less than a year when WPI is assessed, the WPI figure may not be able to be properly ascertained or may be disputed by the insurer.
The key symptom of CRPS is prolonged severe pain that may be constant. It has been described as “burning,” “pins and needles” sensation, or as if someone were squeezing the affected limb.
Other features of CRPS may include:
i. changes in skin texture on the affected area; it may appear shiny and thin
ii. abnormal sweating pattern in the affected area or surrounding areas
iii. changes in nail and hair growth patterns
iv. stiffness in affected joints
v. problems coordinating muscle movement
vi. abnormal movement in the affected limb.
CRPS symptoms vary in severity and duration, although some cases are mild and eventually go away. In more severe cases, individuals may not recover and may have long-term disability.
If you suffer any symptoms of CRPS that have arisen out of a workplace injury, we invite you to contact our office so that we can discuss your potential lump sum compensation claim.