It still hurts! Persistent pain and use of pain medication one year after injury

Document Type



General Surgery


Background: Given the scarce literature data on chronic post-traumatic pain, we aim to identify early predictors of long-term pain and pain medication use after major trauma.
Methods: Major trauma patients (Injury Severity Score ≥ 9) from three Level I Trauma Centers at 12 months after injury were interviewed for daily pain using the Trauma Quality of Life questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression models identified patient- and injury-related independent predictors of pain and use of pain medication.
Results: Of 1238 patients, 612 patients (49%) felt daily pain and 300 patients (24%) used pain medication 1 year after injury. Of a total of 8 independent predictors for chronic pain and 9 independent predictors for daily pain medication, 4 were common (pre-injury alcohol use, pre-injury drug use, hospital stay ≥ 5 days, and education limited to high school). Combinations of independent predictors yielded weak predictability for both outcomes, ranging from 20% to 72%.
Conclusions: One year after injury, approximately half of trauma patients report daily pain and one-fourth use daily pain medication. These outcomes are hard to predict.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The American Journal of Surgery