Postconcussion Symptoms in Patients with Injury-Related Chronic Pain
Postconcussion symptoms such as headaches, irritability, impaired memory, fatigue, and dizziness are commonly reported by patients who have experienced mild traumatic brain injuries. It is believed that evaluating postconcussion symptoms (PCS) following MTBIs could have a diagnostic value, although it is not known if PCS are specifically caused by MTBI.
New research attempted to explore the relationship between PCS, pain, and psychological factors using questionnaires involving symptoms, pain intensity, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. The aim of the study was the determine the frequency of PCS symptoms in patients with chronic pain caused by an injury. Researchers also sought to study the relationships between pain intensity, posttraumatic stress, depression, and PCS symptoms.
The study involved 86 patients of the Pain Rehabilitation Clinic at Ume University Hospital in Sweden. The causes of patients' injuries included sports, assaults, falls, work-related injuries, auto injury, and other traffic collision injuries. In all cases, it had been at least one year since the initial injury.
This study found that patients with injury-related pain reported long-term postconcussion symptoms. Fatigue was the most commonly-reported symptom with 90.7% of participants reporting they experienced fatigue. More than 60% of patients also experienced headache, impaired memory, sleep disturbance, and poor concentration. The researchers also found significant relationships between PCS and depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.
These results serve as a reminder that patients with mild traumatic brain injuries should be evaluated for physical symptoms as well as depression, posttraumatic stress, and other factors.
Stålnacke BM. Postconcussion Symptoms in patients with injury-related chronic pain. Rehabil Res Pract 2012; v2012:doi 10.1155/2012/528265.