News Release Archive

A new program and policy aimed at preventing and managing chronic
pain was announced today by the Workers' Compensation Board of
Nova Scotia (WCB).

"This is a new and innovative approach," said Dr. Robert Elgie,
chair of the WCB. "We are now directing prevention services and
support to help injured workers avoid and manage chronic pain."

The new program has two phases. During the first phase, injured
workers who are at high risk of developing chronic pain are
supported with pain management and prevention services. Where
necessary, this initial phase may be followed by a second phase
of a more intensive program of services lasting up to four weeks.

"Our main goal is to give injured workers and their families the
support they need to make the transition to working and living
with pain that may not go away," said Dr. Elgie. "We want to stop
long-term pain before it starts and we want to help workers
manage their pain before it reaches a stage where it's

The WCB's new program will run as a pilot program over the next
three years. Injured workers who are within one year of the date
of their accident, or those who have been approved for, and are
awaiting, a permanent award from the WCB may be considered for
the program.

Both phases of the program involve active participation in a
return-to-work program. This will include advice and information
on appropriate medication usage, psychological services and
counselling, and physical conditioning. The emphasis is on
helping injured workers deal with their pain and re-enter the
workforce. In keeping with past practice, the WCB will not
provide longer-term compensation for chronic pain.

"The best way to deal with chronic pain is through an intensive
support program that focuses on pain prevention, pain management
and returning to work," said Dr. Elgie. "Long-term compensation
for chronic pain is not the answer. We are working toward real,
lasting solutions."

The WCB's policy and program are based on one-and-a-half years of
research and consultation, including a major review of the
medical literature conducted in 1994. The policy was approved by
the WCB's Board of Directors, which has equal representation from
Nova Scotia's labour and management communities. The new policy
is now included in the regulations of the Workers' Compensation

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists beyond the normal
recovery time for a particular injury, but for which there is no
significant, objective evidence that the injury has not healed.

In the case of workers' compensation claims, chronic pain
develops after a workplace accident -- usually a soft-tissue
injury such as a lower back strain, sprain or contusion. However,
research has proven that it is difficult to trace the cause to a
specific injury or accident. Rather, chronic pain is a complex
condition that results from a variety of factors.

Chronic pain is not continuing pain related to an injury that has
not healed, or to an ongoing identifiable condition resulting
from the injury that is supported by significant, objective
physical findings (for example, a poorly healed fracture, nerve
damage, or post-traumatic arthritis).

The WCB's new chronic pain program will result in an initial
increase in costs, but future savings resulting from this program
will cover these costs and the WCB's funding strategy will not be
jeopardized, said WCB chief executive officer David Stuewe.


Contact: donalee Moulton  902-424-8339

trp                    Mar. 26, 1996 - 1:28 p.m.