Patients who break a major bone may be at increased risk of subsequent widespread chronic pain, according to a study by UK researchers.
The findings may help “inform the identification of those most at risk of chronic widespread pain post-fracture, allowing preventative measures to be targeted”, said the study authors from the University of Southampton.
“These findings might help us to reduce the burden of chronic pain following such fractures”
The study, published in Archives of Osteoporosis, looked at data from the UK Biobank on 500,000 adults aged 40 to 69 years old, to investigate associations between a past history of fracture affecting upper and lower limb, spine or hip and the presence of chronic widespread body pain.
Among the cohort, 7,130 individuals reported chronic widespread bodily pain and 23,177 had a history of fracture.
The researchers considered possible effects of a wide range of further factors, including participant diet, lifestyle and body build, and, importantly, measures of psychological health.
They found that the risk of chronic widespread body pain was increased if participants reported having a past fracture, especially spine and hip fractures.
After adjusting for other factors, men and women who had a spine fracture and women who had a hip fracture were more than twice as likely to experience long-term widespread pain as other patients.
Lead researcher Professor Nicholas Harvey said: “The causes of chronic widespread pain are poorly characterised, and this study is the first to demonstrate an association with past fracture.
“Past studies have demonstrated an increased risk of chronic widespread pain following traumatic events, but none have directly linked to skeletal fractures,” he said.
“If confirmed in further studies, these findings might help us to reduce the burden of chronic pain following such fractures,” he added.