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Specific pain complaints in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans screening positive for post-traumatic stress disorder.



Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain are highly comorbid.


The purpose of this study was to examine the association of PTSD with specific pain complaints in veterans of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF).


A total of 381 primarily male (88.5%) veterans with a mean age of 30 years completed a battery of self-report questionnaires. A positive PTSD screen was defined as a score of ≥40 on the Davidson Trauma Scale. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of positive PTSD screen with specific pain complaints.


There were no significant demographic or physical and mental health differences between veterans who screened positive for PTSD only and those with PTSD and at least one pain complaint, although differences on rates of combat injury and depression approached significance. Veterans who screened positive for PTSD were 2 to 3 times more likely to report abdominal pain, muscle aches or cramps, and joint aches, even after controlling for age, gender, combat injury, and depression.


Similar to findings in other populations, there is a relationship between PTSD and pain complaints in OEF/OIF veterans. Future research should examine the mechanisms that link PTSD with specific pain complaints, especially abdominal pain.

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