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Trauma Patients Suffer Even 12 Months After Injury

Those with joint and extremity damage had chronic pain lasting years

THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- One year after suffering major trauma, many patients have moderately severe pain, a U.S. study finds.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, who noted that post-injury pain can lead to disability, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, analyzed data from 3,047 patients (ages 18 to 84) who were hospitalized for treatment of acute trauma and survived at least one year.

"At 12 months after injury, 62.7 percent of patients reported injury-related pain. Most patients had pain in more than one body region, and the mean (average) severity of pain in the last month was 5.5 on a 10-point scale," the study authors wrote.

"The most common painful areas were joints and extremities (44.3 percent), back (26.2 percent), head (11.5 percent), neck (6.9 percent), abdomen (4.4 percent), chest (3.8 percent) and face (2.8 percent)," the researchers wrote.

They also found that 59.3 percent of patients with injury-related pain had three or more painful areas one year after injury, while 37.3 percent had a single painful area.

Patients 35 to 44 years of age were most likely to experience pain one year after their injury, while patients 75 to 84 were least likely to have pain.

"The reported presence of pain varied with age and was more common in women and those who had untreated depression before injury. Pain at three months was predictive of both the presence and higher severity of pain at 12 months. Lower pain severity was reported by patients with a college education and those with no previous functional limitations," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Archives of Surgery.

"The findings of this study suggest that interventions to decrease chronic pain in trauma patients are needed. The high prevalence of pain, its severity and its effect on functioning warrant such interventions. This may consist of interventions during the acute phase of hospitalization to aggressively treat early pain and better manage neuropathic pain," the study authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences has more about trauma and other kinds of injuries.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, March 17, 2008

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