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All Press Releases for January 28, 2014 »
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Chronic pain--maybe it is in the white matter

Fox News recently reported the rather startling results of a study on the connection between structural differences in the brain and a person's ability to recover from pain.
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    January 28, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Fox News recently reported the rather startling results of a study on the connection between structural differences in the brain and a person's ability to recover from pain while other people continue to suffer. The study was published in the October issue of the journal Pain. The study involved 46 people who suffered from low back pain for about three months and underwent a brain scan. Over the next year, approximately half the individuals studied recovered; the other half continued to suffer.

The researchers found structural differences in the "white matter" of the people who were able to recover. The researchers say that may have uncovered an anatomical marker in the brain itself for chronic pain--specifically in the connections between various regions of the brain--which is why the differences are considered in the white matter of the brain rather than the gray matter of the brain itself. The study acknowledges that more research is needed to understand the connection between the brain's white matter and chronic pain.

While this study holds promise of a diagnostic tool to evaluate pain, pain is still pain and sometimes it can be debilitating. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration's annual report, pain is the most common reason that people apply for Social Security disability benefits. The second most common reason people apply for SSD benefits is a mental or psychological disorder.

For Social Security disability purposes, to qualify a person must establish that he or she has a "medically determinable" physical or psychological impairment that prevents them from being able to perform substantial gainful activity for a minimum of 12 consecutive months

But you cannot base a disability on a symptom alone; pain, which can be subjective, is often times not enough, even if you know how bad it is. There has to be evidence that there is a physical condition that is likely to cause pain. This means a physical exam and various diagnostic tests, such as an MRI, a CT scan, or nerve condition test, will be required to provide a basis for the cause of the pain. Also important is the "Pain and Daily Activities Questionnaire" that applicants are required to complete. It is very comprehensive (five pages long) and applicants should be as specific and thorough as possible in their responses.

It is well established that most Social Security disability applications are initially denied. If denied SSD or SSI benefits, an applicant can appeal the decision and request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Having effective legal representation through an experienced Pennsylvania disability attorney is important in building a convincing case for disability based on pain and advocating for you throughout what may be a lengthy process.

Article provided by Berger and Green
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