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Accidents such as motor vehicle collisions and slips and falls can lead to chronic pain. Chronic pain is a long-lasting condition that interferes with a person’s quality of life, their relationships and their ability to work.

The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine defines chronic pain as follows:

Pain that lasts beyond the term of an injury or painful stimulus. Can also refer to cancer pain, pain from a chronic or degenerative disease, and pain from an unidentified cause.

How common is chronic pain? Estimates vary widely between 10 and 55 per cent of the population. One study found that 17 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older had chronic pain or some level of discomfort. Women and seniors are more likely than other groups to experience chronic pain.

Chronic pain is not considered a “minor injury” under Alberta’s Minor Injury Regulation. This is significant. It means that general damages (i.e. pain and suffering) for accident victims with chronic pain are not limited by the government’s “cap” on minor injuries.

The minor injury cap in Alberta is currently about $4,700 when adjusted for inflation. For more about the minor injury cap, see our blog entry on the topic.

Chronic pain can be contrasted with “acute pain.” Acute pain begins at the time of injury and persists throughout the healing process. It is localized to a particular area of the body, which is typically not the case with chronic pain.

While acute pain serves a purpose, such as signaling physical injury and altering our behaviour, chronic pain does not seem to serve a practical purpose. It persists after injuries have (apparently) healed. It hinders us while serving no practical purpose.

Needless to say, chronic pain is an awful thing to endure. It can affect all areas of your life. It is frustrating for both doctor and patient that chronic pain has no predictable end and responds minimally or not at all to treatment. You can learn more about chronic pain at this link.

If you have any questions about chronic pain from motor vehicle accidents or slips and falls, please contact us.