Frequent chronic pain after intensive care unit stays?

Frequent chronic pain after intensive care unit stays?

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Many clinical patients develop chronic pain after intensive care

Hospitalization with intensive care is associated with an increased risk of chronic pain - regardless of the cause of the hospital admission. In a recent study, researchers from the University Hospital Jena (UKJ) were able to show that around a third of all survivors report significant pain even up to a year after hospital discharge.

In their study, the scientists at the Jena University Hospital identified risk factors that are associated with chronic pain after treatment in the intensive care unit. It was shown that the findings with which the patients were hospitalized only play a subordinate role. Other factors, such as pre-existing pain or severe pain immediately after intensive treatment, have a much more far-reaching effect here.

How are surviving patients after treatment?

In the current study, the research team headed by psychologist Philipp Baumbach and pain doctor Winfried Meissner from the UKJ examined the frequency and risk factors of chronic pain in more than 200 patients after intensive treatment and compared them with healthy volunteers. Because, thanks to modern intensive care medicine, more and more patients survive even serious illnesses and injuries, but the question remains how they are doing months or years later.

A third of patients with chronic pain

The scientists found that one in three of the survivors complained of significant pain for up to a year after being released. As a result, those affected are "significantly impaired in their day-to-day activities, ability to work and quality of life", according to the UKJ. Contrary to what was originally assumed, it hardly played a role in the development of chronic pain whether the patients suffered from sepsis (blood poisoning) or not during their intensive stay.

Risk factors identified

In their studies, however, the researchers were able to identify risk factors that had a significant impact on the risk of chronic pain. According to the UKJ, for example, "the inflammatory value of CRP is associated with an increased risk of chronic pain after intensive care." In the current study, "pre-existing pain, lower age, but above all severe pain immediately after intensive care" were identified as further risk factors been.

New approaches to prevention

"These results are particularly interesting because they are similar to our findings on surgical pain," says study author Winfried Meissner. It is already known that the administration of certain medications during and immediately after the operation can counteract the chronification of pain. "If this knowledge is transferable, new approaches for the prevention of chronic complaints will also open up for intensive care patients," explains Meissner.

Abnormalities in stimulus processing

In another part of the project, the researchers also analyzed the abnormalities of the stimulus processing in the patients. They found that around half of the patients had a pronounced malfunction of thin nerve fibers. In comparison to those without the changes, these patients were affected by increased pain impairment and, as a result, a lower quality of life. "Early screening for these changes could lead to patients at risk being identified and treated in good time," says psychologist Philipp Baumbach. (fp)

Author and source information

Video: Cardiac Intensive Care Unit - A Patients Guide (August 2022).