Chronic Pain Often Follows Car Crash: Study

MONDAY March 21, 2011 -- People appear to be more likely to develop chronic pain after suffering injuries in a traffic crash than after other physically traumatic events, a new study suggests.

In the study, Gareth Jones, of the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine and Dentistry in Scotland, and colleagues looked at 2,069 people who provided information about musculoskeletal pain and associated distress at three times over four years. The participants were also asked if they had recently experienced any of six physically traumatic events: traffic crash, workplace injury, surgery, fracture, hospitalization or childbirth.

Of the 241 study participants who reported new onset of chronic widespread pain, about one-third were more likely than other participants to report at least one physically traumatic event during the study period.

After the researchers adjusted for a number of factors, they found that people who reported being in a traffic crash had an 84 percent increased risk of developing new onset chronic widespread pain.

There was no link between new onset of chronic pain and hospitalization, surgery or childbirth, Jones and colleagues noted in the study, published in the March 21 issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

"We believe there are persons -- defined by prior physical and psychological health -- who in the event of a traumatic trigger are vulnerable to developing chronic widespread pain," Jones explained in a journal news release.

"Further research should focus on the unique aspects of an auto accident and the individual's reaction to this particular trauma that causes the increased risk of chronic widespread pain onset," he concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about chronic pain.

Posted: March 2011


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