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Can I receive workers’ compensation for my fibromyalgia in Illinois?

| Dec 18, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

When people think about workers’ compensation in Illinois, they picture someone who has suffered a broken bone, a head injury or muscle strain. However, some disabled workers are not dealing with such an obvious work-related injury. Instead, these workers struggle with a medical condition related to their employment, such as fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is known as a syndrome with multiple symptoms that often cannot be explained. According to WebMD, fibromyalgia symptoms include the following:

  • Tender joints or a lower pain threshold in specific points
  • Fatigue, potentially to the point of incapacitation
  • Pain that may be distributed throughout the body
  • Emotional volatility, from anxiety to depression

Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include abdominal pain, chronic headaches and hypersensitivity to cold or heat.

Workers’ compensation may be available

Workers in Illinois who sustain injuries or other occupational diseases, such as fibromyalgia, may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act, which requires employers to insure against work-related injuries, provides financial recourse to injured workers in the face of potential medical costs and lost wages, among other damages. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, it is also possible for a worker to claim benefits if a medical condition, such as fibromyalgia, was aggravated through employment.

Proving fibromyalgia is work-related

In order for workers’ compensation benefits to be warranted, claimants must prove that the illness in question arose out of and in the course of employment. Although there is no known cause of fibromyalgia, the Fibromyalgia Network states that sufferers of this syndrome can experience aggravation of their symptoms from certain factors. Repetitive actions, such as typing, standing or sitting for long periods of time, can cause further pain and distress to someone suffering from fibromyalgia.

Workplace environments can be another factor. For example, a person in a work environment that is cold, such as a meat packing plant or an office where the temperature is unstable can experience more severe fibromyalgia symptoms. The same is true in places where the employee is exposed to bright lights, drafts and loud noises. Employees working at airports, hospitals, laboratories, and even retail may be affected.

Legal assistance

Establishing the connection between a workplace environment and the origin or aggravation of an injury can be complex and contentious. Employers and insurers have an incentive to limit payouts for workers’ compensation claims, if not avoid them altogether. For this reason, Illinois workers who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and have experienced complications due to their work environment, may wish to consult with an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney.