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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1993 Jan;74(1):61-4.

Traumatic brain injury and chronic pain: differential types and rates by head injury severity.

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University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Seattle 98195.


Traumatic brain injury has been associated with many physical and neurobehavioral consequences, including pain problems. Documented most has been the presence of posttraumatic headaches that are associated with the postconcussion syndrome. This study therefore examined types and rates of chronic pain problems in patients seen in an outpatient brain injury rehabilitation program. A total of 104 patients were evaluated, 66 of whom were male and 38 female, and the average time postinjury was 26 months. Headaches were the most frequent chronic pain problem across both mild and the moderate/severe groups, although in the former, a significantly higher frequency was noted (89%) when compared against the latter group. The same relative rates were seen for chronic neck/shoulder, back, and other pain problems. The mild group also showed a higher frequency of concurrent pain problems, whereas in the moderate/severe group only one patient had more than one chronic pain problem. Results also showed that in the mild group neck/shoulder accompanied headaches 47% of the time, and back pain coexisted with headaches 44% of the time. These results underscore the high frequency of chronic pain problems in the mild head injury population and implicate the need for avoiding the mislabeling of symptoms such attentional deficits or psychological distress as attributable only to head injury sequelae in those with coexisting chronic pain. Early identification and intervention of pain syndromes in the mild head-injury population is also suggested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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