Can a Car Accident Cause Fibromyalgia?
A car accident can cause injuries that are immediately noticeable, such as bone fractures or soft-tissue injuries. Some injuries, however, take longer to develop and show symptoms. One of these is fibromyalgia, a condition that can cause severe physical and mental health complications over time. Although researchers do not know the exact cause of fibromyalgia, they connect it to genetics, infections, and trauma. A car accident could potentially trigger a case of fibromyalgia through physical trauma and/or psychological stress.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that affects the muscles and bones. It is a relatively common condition that can amplify musculoskeletal pain throughout the body. The main symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain – usually for at least three months. Some patients report pain as sensitive pressure points, such as tender spots on the body. Others experience discomfort and achiness, seemingly without reason. Injuries and bruises may also feel more painful to someone with fibromyalgia. Physicians do not fully understand what causes fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia frequently causes symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, cognitive difficulties and trouble concentrating on top of persistent pain. Chronic fatigue is common, as fibromyalgia can impact sleep. This condition can interfere with sleep due to pain, as well as contribute to conditions that may interrupt sleep, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. It can also coexist with conditions such as headaches or migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and TMJ disorders. Doctors believe fibromyalgia works by amplifying the brain’s perception of pain. No known cure currently exists for fibromyalgia, although doctors may treat symptoms through pain management methods.
Car Accidents and Fibromyalgia
Certain people are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than others. Those most commonly diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women, people with family histories of fibromyalgia, and people with lupus or arthritis. Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, however – even children. Researchers believe fibromyalgia may come from repeated nerve stimulation, such as that of people who have experienced physical injuries. Nerve stimulation could change the brain of someone with fibromyalgia by increasing the chemicals that receive and signal pain. These neurotransmitters appear to remember pain in people with fibromyalgia and become more sensitive to pain signals in the future.
Studies have shown a link between fibromyalgia and traumatic events such as car accidents. A car crash could trigger fibromyalgia by making the brain’s pain receptors more sensitive after a physical injury or emotional stress. The psychological stress of a vehicle accident, including emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder, could also lead to fibromyalgia. A crash victim may notice the symptoms of fibromyalgia weeks or months after the car accident. These symptoms can be physical, cognitive or emotional. The stress of dealing with a lesser-known condition can lead to anxiety and depression on top of the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Seeking Compensation for Fibromyalgia After a Car Accident
A car accident survivor who develops fibromyalgia because of the accident may be able to file a claim to damages connected to the condition. Chronic pain, lost quality of life, emotional injuries, lost wages, medical bills, therapy costs and legal fees are all damages a patient with fibromyalgia could potentially list on a car accident claim. The California courts allow crash victims to demand compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. The patient will need to establish a causal link between the vehicle collision and the fibromyalgia, however. This may take help from an auto accident attorney in Los Angeles.
Proving fibromyalgia as a compensable loss in a car accident claim may take medical records and expert witness testimony. An expert medical witness could help a judge or jury understand the connection between a traumatic event such as a car crash and fibromyalgia. A medical witness could also help demonstrate the daily pain and suffering a patient with fibromyalgia experiences. A personal injury lawyer could help a car accident survivor establish his or her damages, including conditions such as fibromyalgia, and demand fair compensation for them. A lawyer will have connections to fibromyalgia experts and other resources to build a strong claim.