Fibromyalgia Compensation Claims

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What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. The pain is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the pain pathways in the central nervous system. Other symptoms are believed to be caused by sleep abnormalities.

Fibromyalgia specifically means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, generally all the softer, more fibrous tissues in the body. There is a sense, according to most patients, of ‘aching all over’, with the related symptoms of a chronic case of flu. Muscles often feel as if they have been pulled or worked too hard and there are instances where muscles may twitch or feel like they’re burning. Cognitive abilities can also be affected with many patients reporting having ‘brain-fog’, where they find functions such as concentration and memory to be impaired.

Fibromyalgia can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, but it is seven times more likely to be diagnosed in women than men. The condition tends to develop between the ages of 30 and 50, however, it is not uncommon for it to occur in people of all ages – from the very young to elderly.

It is most commonly caused – or exacerbated by – physical traumas, such as car accidents and falls, often due to no fault of the patient.

Fibromyalgia

Can I Claim Compensation for Fibromyalgia?

If your fibromyalgia symptoms were caused, or were made worse as a result of another person’s negligence, then you may be eligible for a fibromyalgia compensation claim. Whether you were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, had an accident at work, or had a slip/trip, you may be able to claim compensation for your losses.

In order to claim, you will need to be able to demonstrate that the negligence was the cause of your fibromyalgia symptoms. Additionally, the value of your claim will depend entirely on the severity of your symptoms and the effect it has had on your ability to work.

Medical experts will be instructed to assess your symptoms and provide their opinion on the effect your accident has had on your quality of life, and how that is likely to change in the future. If you’re looking to make a claim, the general rule is that you must claim within three years of knowledge of the negligence which caused your symptoms, however, there are exceptions to this rule.

What is the Average Settlement for Fibromyalgia Claims?

Fibromyalgia personal injury claims can often attract a large sum in compensation, however, the exact amount will depend on the severity of the injury and the impact it has had on your life. The value of the compensation claim can vary greatly from one case to another, from around 100k to more than 1.5 million.

The injury aspect is compensated with an award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA), with the guidelines being set by the Judicial College. The other aspects of the damages award is compensation for financial losses and expenses which occur due to negligence. This includes loss of earnings, aids, equipment, medical treatment and care.

When it comes to fibromyalgia compensation claims, it’s difficult to predict the average settlement, due to the fact that claims are assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, if a young person in a high-paying job claimed compensation for fibromyalgia, they would assess the effect it has had on their life. For example, if they were never able to return to work and required a high level of care, then they could expect to receive a large compensation payout.

However, someone who is close to retirement in a lower-paying job were to claim, it would be decided that the negligence will impact their life for a much shorter amount of time, so they could expect to receive a much lower award of damages for the same injury.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder that is recognised as a syndrome and is sometimes known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome. It has become a syndrome due to the large number of symptoms and other conditions which can indicate this particular disorder.

Fibromyalgia specifically means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, generally all the softer, more fibrous tissues in the body. There is a sense, according to most patients, of ‘aching all over’, with the related symptoms of a chronic case of flu, but 24 hours a day. Muscles often feel as if they have been pulled or worked too hard and there are instances where muscles may twitch or feel like they’re burning.

Fibromyalgia affects people of all ages and backgrounds, although it is seven times more likely to be diagnosed in women than men. The condition often develops between the ages of 30 and 50 but it can occur in people of all ages including the very young and very old, especially when it is the result of an accident or injury.

Figures regarding how many people are living with fibromyalgia vary, although it is often described as a common condition. Arthritis Research UK and other charities and bodies in related areas believe that 1 in 25 people in the UK may be affected with the condition to some degree.

There are more severe cases and those where people can function comfortably from day to day, with only mild symptoms.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is difficult because of the conditions which are closely related and have very similar symptoms. There is no specific test for the condition and therefore one of the main processes in diagnosing fibromyalgia is ruling out other conditions, often through urine and blood tests and a range of scans.

Many people suffering with fibromyalgia have related conditions such as chronic pain syndrome.
Fibromyalgia can be triggered by a sudden forceful injury to the muscles such as a whiplash injury, injury caused by a fall or due to being hit with a falling object or a sprain developed from lifting a heavy object.

Unfortunately there is no complete understanding of what causes fibromyalgia and research is continually being carried out to determine this cause. Research currently suggests that there is a link and interaction between physical, mental and psychological factors in each sufferer. The pain that is felt in any individual is often affected by their emotional state and conditions such as anxiety and depression can exacerbate physical pain. The alternative can also be true.

Many people experience a trigger event which results in the fibromyalgia symptoms. These trigger events are often things such as viral infections, mental trauma or physical trauma such as an injury in a public place, at work or in a road traffic accident. Many of the people currently living with fibromyalgia have suffered a traumatic event which wasn’t their fault yet they are left with the long-term after effects.

Recent studies into the causes of fibromyalgia show interesting comparisons and are looked at in more depth below.

Abnormal Nervous System Processes

One of the leading theories is that people living with fibromyalgia have developed changes in the way their central nervous system processes the pain messages around their body. This could be due to chemical imbalances in the nervous system. Research has shown that people living with fibromyalgia syndrome have strikingly low levels of the hormones noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin in their brains and the cause of the syndrome could be linked to these differences. These hormones are essential for regulating certain behaviours integral to a happy healthy life including mood, sleep, behaviour, stress management and appetite.

Further research suggests that disturbed sleeping patterns may be a cause of fibromyalgia or exacerbate the condition. Conversely, fibromyalgia sufferers often live with chronic fatigue but continue to suffer with disturbed sleep.

Most studies have concluded that there are no links between fibromyalgia and genetics, although there is further research being carried out in this area.

Fibromyalgia is well-known for its difficulty when it comes to diagnosis. There is no specific test which gives a straight diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome and therefore it may take some time to get to the final answer. The symptoms of fibromyalgia are very similar to several other conditions and therefore it is important to be as specific as possible when discussing symptoms with the doctor, including the way in which they may be having an impact on daily activities, work and general day to day life.

Throughout diagnosis, you will be asked about your symptoms and how they affect you. Your body will be examined in depth to check for visible symptoms which may suggest other conditions, including arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

When your GP is clear that fibromyalgia may be a possibility the next stage is to start ruling out other conditions which could be responsible for the symptoms including chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are clear tests for these conditions including both urine and blood tests and also x-rays and MRI Scans. Sometimes, even when you are found to have another condition this doesn’t always rule out fibromyalgia.

Specific Fibromyalgia Criteria

For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome specific criteria usually have to be met. The most commonly used criteria, as outlined by the NHS, are:

– A similar level of pain / discomfort / symptoms in general for at least three months
– You have either severe pain in three to six areas of your body or milder pain in seven+ areas
– No other explanation for your symptoms has been found

The next stage of diagnosis is usually assessment of the extent of the pain through the application of pressure to certain ‘tender points’ on the body – this type of assessment isn’t as common as it used to be.

Alongside a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, many people also find themselves with other closely related conditions such as depression, anxiety or irritable bowel syndrome, although this may mean more testing and assessment.The diagnosis process isn’t quick or easy but once an answer is found, treatment can be sought.

Fibromyalgia affects everyone in different ways. The condition is very personal and even in support groups members will suffer differing degrees of the syndrome and may experience only a few shared symptoms or the same symptoms at different levels and intensities.

Overall fibromyalgia is recognised as a chronic condition, but the symptoms of the condition may come in waves and there may be periods which are relatively pain free and others which can leave the individual with the syndrome unable to leave bed. The impact that fibromyalgia has on daily activities such as working a full-time job is highly dependent upon the individual in question. Many individuals with fibromyalgia are able to work comfortably, although they may need time off for additional medical appointments, others are not in position to hold down a regular job.

Fibromyalgia is recognised as a disabling condition and has the same life-impacting possibilities as conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. As such, sufferers may be entitled to financial assistance such as Disability Living Allowance.
There has been an increase in awareness surrounding the condition and many people who previously may have felt unable to work have since found themselves in a position to do so thanks to increased awareness in the workplace.

It remains difficult to predict the prognosis of fibromyalgia on an individual basis because so many factors, physical, psychological and even environmental play a role in the development of the condition. Many individuals go through both positive and negative periods with the condition and in time find a treatment method which makes living with the syndrome more manageable.

Alongside professional medical treatment you can make changes to your lifestyle and your activity levels which may have a positive impact on your fibromyalgia symptoms. As well as making changes to your lifestyle you could also consider joining a support group like those provided by UK Fibromyalgia. Below are some other key areas where you can make changes which may positively affect your symptoms.

Exercise

Two of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic fatigue and pain which can make exercising difficult or impossible at times. An exercise programme designed for your condition can help improve your overall health and manage your symptoms. This is something that should be managed by your GP or physiotherapist and can be made up of both aerobic and resistance training. The exercises will be gentle and designed to help improve your endurance and help alleviate pain. Exercises such as hill walking, tai chi and yoga are popular, however you should seek medical advice before undertaking any strenuous exercise.

Pacing

Once you have your diagnosis of fibromyalgia you will often hear the phrase ‘pace yourself’. It’s a fact that you really do have to take a step back when it comes to the pace of your life and pacing yourself, understanding and listening to your body, can help avoid periods of downtime and inactivity. Learning your body’s limits and working with them will help with managing your condition comfortably and not overexerting yourself and ending up with excessive pain.

Relaxation

Studies show the risks of depression and anxiety are higher for sufferers of fibromyalgia. Taking time to relax and practice relaxation techniques will help allow your body and mind to heal. You could choose to simply enjoy extra naps or time relaxing in bed or you could partake in meditation, deep breathing or specialised relaxation techniques. Talking therapies including counselling can also be a relaxation method.

Better Sleep

The National Fibromyalgia Research Association reports that more than 75% of sufferers complain of disturbed sleep. Basic good sleep techniques including building a sleep routine with the same waking and going to bed times, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed and avoiding eating heavy meals late at night. Your bedroom should be a relaxing environment without electronics, kept dark and quiet and you should also avoid checking the time throughout the night.

If you’re interested in finding out how you can help yourself if you suffer with fibromyalgia, then we have more information for you within the exercise, relaxation and sleep sections of our blog.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia but many people who have been diagnosed with the syndrome are able to live a healthy and full life, especially those considered to be suffering with the lower level, less severe versions of the syndrome.

Many of the treatments available for fibromyalgia have been researched in depth and have been shown to alleviate and manage the symptoms. Chemical treatments can be paired with lifestyle changes and it is important to manage both alongside each other. The wide range of medications available means that if a treatment becomes less effective your GP may be able to prescribe something else which works well.

Living with fibromyalgia is a trial but with many different treatment methods there is always hope there will be something else to try or a new combination to consider. The syndrome is also becoming more well-known and awareness is also increasing, leading to more research and interest in finding answers to the root cause of the condition.

The business of fibromyalgia cures has been discussed at length. As with many other conditions, there has been a notable interest in unscientifically proven cures, usually available online. As a condition which has no cure and this is, at this moment in time, medically proven, you should always be aware and cautious of anything that is sold as a fibromyalgia cure. As well as being a potential waste of money you cannot be sure of the ingredients and medical benefits of these products, despite the claims that they alleviate your symptoms. The only way to manage and improve fibromyalgia syndrome is by following the advice of your doctors and other medical professionals.

Fibromyalgia is considered a notoriously difficult condition to diagnose. Many sufferers experience frustration as GPs struggle to come to a conclusion and some doctors believe it to be psychosomatic. A lack of understanding of a physical source of the pain and fatigue does not mean that the problem is psychological, although this is one theory that is widely put forward, so you may find you need to push for the diagnosis you need in order to be able to move forward with your life.

Doctors are there to help you get this diagnosis and, in the short time they have with you, they only get a snapshot of your condition. It is important to be as descriptive as you can be, describe your day to day life and provide them with examples if you can, even a written log. There are a large range of symptoms of Fibromyalgia and diagnosis will be easier if you can accurately describe yours. Not being able to understand what you deal with on a daily basis may lead a doctor to believe you’re imagining your condition or that you may have hypochondriac tendencies.

If you feel that you have not had the diagnosis you need in order to move forward with your life. It may mean moving doctors or even surgeries. But there will be a doctor out there who is happy to work with you and can help to reduce your symptoms.

If your fibromyalgia was triggered or made worse by an accident or trauma, then you may be entitled to fibromyalgia compensation. Additionally, if you have already claimed for fibromyalgia compensation, but your previous solicitor advised you to settle for too little, then we may be able to help.
As leading solicitors for fibromyalgia cases in England and Wales, Brian Barr Solicitors can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have collectively secured fibromyalgia compensation payouts of over £20 million for victims in the past. So if you’re looking for a fibromyalgia lawyer to represent you, then get in touch today to see how Brian Barr Solicitors can help you.

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