Conceptualizing a subtype of patients with chronic pain: The necessity of obtaining a history of sexual abuse

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2016;51(1):84-103. doi: 10.1177/0091217415621268.


Lifetime history of sexual abuse is estimated to range between 15% and 25% in the general female population. Cross-sectional studies have shown that sexual assault survivors frequently report chronic musculoskeletal pain and functional somatic syndromes. Treating chronic pain with opioids went from being largely discouraged to being included in standards of care and titrating doses until patients self-report adequate control has become common practice, with 8% to 30% of patients with chronic noncancer pain receiving opioids. In this clinical review, we will discuss the association between survivors of sexual assault and chronic pain/functional somatic syndromes. We will further review evidence-based treatment strategies for this "pain-prone phenotype."

Keywords: Centralized Pain Syndromes; Childhood sexual abuse; and Opiate Misuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid