Incidence of chronic pain following traumatic brain injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1996 Sep;77(9):889-91. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(96)90275-0.


Objective: To index the frequency of reported chronic pain in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: A case series study was conducted on consecutive patients with TBI.

Setting: TBI patients were recruited from an adult tertiary care center brain injury clinic.

Patients: A consecutive sample of 132 patients who attended a brain injury rehabilitation center after TBI. The sample included 53 mild and 79 moderate/severe TBI patients.

Outcome measures: Patients were administered a protocol that indexed pain site, frequency, severity, and duration.

Results: Chronic pain was reported by 58% of mild TBI and 52% of moderate/severe TBI patients. Headaches were the most commonly reported pain problem. Chronic headaches were reported by 47% of mild TBI patients and 34% of moderate/ severe TBI patients. Neck/shoulder, back, upper limb, and lower limb pain were reported similarly by mild and moderate/severe TBI patients.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that chronic pain is a significant problem in mild and moderate/severe TBI patients. More effective diagnosis of TBI patients with chronic pain may facilitate rehabilitation of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Disease
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement / methods*