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Pain Med. 2002 Mar;3(1):6-17.

Chronic persistent pain after severe burns: a survey of 358 burn survivors.

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Schwabing City Hospital, Munich, Germany.



To determine the prevalence, characteristics, and effects of chronic persistent pain on burn survivors.


Mail survey.


Respondents' homes.


All members of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.




Twenty-three questions on the prevalence of pain and its characteristics, including the short form of the McGill-Melzack Pain Questionnaire.


Of 1,500 members who received the survey, 358 (24%) responded. Respondents had burns covering an average of 59% of their bodies. Time between the injury and the survey averaged 12 years. On the survey, 52% of respondents reported ongoing burn-related pain, and 46% were able to characterize their pain with one or more of 15 characteristics. Two-thirds (66%) reported that pain interfered with their rehabilitation, and 55% reported that pain interfered with their daily lives. Asked "what makes the pain worse now?," the most frequent reply (15%) was "the weather" (including "hot" or "cold"). Various physical activities (e.g., walking, bicycling) were also mentioned, along with nerve regrowth, contractures, remembering the accident, and depression. "Things that make your pain better now" included "nothing," a variety of over-the-counter analgesics, "rest,""exercise,""yoga,""acupuncture,""family and friends," and "God." In coping with their pain, most respondents found family the most helpful, although nurse(s) received almost as high a rating.


Pain associated with burn trauma continues to be of considerable significance in the lives of burn victims long after the initial injury and hospitalization. Little research has been done on this population.

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