Worker Completely Disabled by Chronic Pain Syndrome

|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/06/2011

Despite the lack of physical, organic causes behind his diagnosis of Chronic Pain Syndrome, the complex of psychological factors and attendant pain manifestations associated with the illness rendered a worker completely disabled and incapable of doing his job.

A career truck driver since leaving high school, 44-year-old L.T. underwent spinal fusion in 1994 to relieve back pain. The procedure did not resolve his problems and, following the surgery, he began psychiatric treatment for depression, anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Nevertheless, he began working for a large municipality as a heavy equipment operator in 1996 — a job that he described as “jarring” and akin to “riding on a park bench.”

He transferred to the least physically demanding operator jobs available to avoid straining his back. However, in 2006 while dislodging a metal pipe that had become stuck between his machine’s oversized tires, he overextended himself, causing an injury that resulted neck and shoulder pain that radiated into his fingertips. He left work and filed a claim with the provincial compensation board. He was then misdiagnosed at a walk-in clinic and prescribed physiotherapy and pain medication. The treatment aggravated his pain.