Understanding Car Accident Claims

Avoiding Painkiller Addiction While Navigating Your Workers' Compensation Claim

by Lois Gibson

If you've recently suffered an on-the-job orthopedic injury, you may have already been prescribed narcotic pain relievers to help you manage your pain while your doctors and insurers work together on a longer-term plan. Unfortunately, many workers' compfnsation policies (and their backing insurers) have restrictions that can make it far easier to pay for prescription medication indefinitely than point you toward surgery, physical or occupational therapy, or other treatments that may take longer but which have a higher success rate.

While some states have taken proactive efforts to reduce the amount of opiate prescribing that is taking place in conjunction with workers' comp claims, others have had less success, with many workers eventually seeking disability benefits after developing painkiller addictions stemming from an on-the-job injury. Read on to learn more about your options if you'd like to avoid the use (or overuse) of opiates while recovering from a work-related injury.

Ask For Clarification

If you've been prescribed narcotic pain relievers but haven't been directed toward any other treatment plan, it's appropriate to ask for clarification or more information from your employer's workers' compensation insurer (or your own physician). In some cases, this pain relief is designated to be temporary while a longer-term treatment plan is developed; in other cases, the plan may be simply to see whether your pain recedes enough with medication to allow you to return to work.

For situations that fall into the latter category, you may want to inquire about non-narcotic pain relief methods. Unless you have liver or kidney problems that can make consumption of acetaminophen or ibuprofen problematic, you may be able to manage your symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers until you begin a course of physical therapy or have surgery on the affected joint or bones. 


If you've attempted to negotiate with your employer and its workers' compensation insurer, to no avail, you may want to enlist the help of an attorney. Workers' comp attorneys have a wealth of medical knowledge in addition to knowing the laws, rules, and regulations governing workers' comp claims in your state, and an attorney may be able to point you toward alternative therapies or treatments that are acceptable to your workers' comp insurer.

If these negotiations go south, you'll also be able to use your attorney to appeal your claim or fight for your right to receive treatment that doesn't simply involve medicating you for the foreseeable future.