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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2007;44(2):153-66.

Veterans seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: what about comorbid chronic pain?

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Women's Health Sciences Division (116B-3), VA Medical Center, 150 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130, USA.


Our primary aim was to document the rate of comorbidity of physician-diagnosed chronic pain conditions in veterans who were seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Chronic pain diagnoses (e.g., chronic low-back pain and osteoarthritis) were examined with retrospective chart review. Of the patients with PTSD, 66% had chronic pain diagnoses at pretreatment. These findings are consistent with previous studies that documented the high comorbidity of chronic pain and PTSD using samples of pain patients. Our secondary aim was to examine pain ratings before, during, and after PTSD treatment. Using data that were a part of clinical practice, we found that patients with more pain before treatment reported reductions in pain over the course of PTSD treatment and in the 4 months following treatment. While our results must be interpreted cautiously because of multiple confounding factors and the absence of experimental manipulation, they highlight the importance of PTSD and pain comorbidity.

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