Symptom Magnification

Home » Resources » Dictionary » Terms

Definition - What does Symptom Magnification mean?

Symptom magnification is the exaggeration or overstatement of symptoms relating to a medical condition that often reflects a subjective perception of pain made by the patient absent of intention to mislead a physician. In medicine, symptom magnification carries the automatic stigma of malingering, or deliberate faking of disease/illness, in which the patient has an ulterior motive in acquiring prescription medicine or attention-seeking exhibitions that may suggest underlying psychological implications.

SureHire explains Symptom Magnification

Although no definitive tool exists to measure pain outright, clinicians garner medical history information followed by a thorough physical examination (PE) designed to substantiate a patient’s complaints of pain in making a legitimate diagnosis. A thorough interview in line with the PE analysis provides the groundwork for a physician to draw an objective appraisal between the patient’s symptoms and the emotional distress that tends to interfere with normal activities. In many cases, personal circumstances and stressful work conditions are critical factors of anxiety and depression, exacerbating feelings of discomfort and pain that serve as triggers for a patient’s symptom magnification.

For physicians, an acute injury presents visible symptoms including inflammation, redness, and swelling while, conversely, chronic pain does not provide a physical manifestation of pain symptoms creating a disparity where a patient’s symptom magnification claims may not correspond with test results. For this reason, a psychological evaluation is an integral component in establishing whether the magnitude of the actual pain imposes physical limitations that are often a contingent factor on a person’s emotional state. Physicians are obligated to explain to patients the nature of their diagnosis against erroneous judgments often linked with symptom magnification followed with recommendations for proper treatment.

A physician uses tactile sensation that involves palpating an affected site of perceived pain by the patient to determine if sensory cues justify the details underpinning symptom magnification. In the workplace, individuals who sustain an injury will file for workers' compensation claims that cover medical expenses and wage deficits. Consequently, diagnostic testing that shows a patient’s symptom magnification reports coincide with test results can serve as leverage in rendering pain and suffering damages, a legal statute that allows individuals to receive additional benefits for emotional distress.

Subscribe to SureNews!

Get your Reasonable Suspicion Checklist! Join our community and get access to more resources like this! Emails are sent monthly, so no need to worry, we will not fill up your inbox.