TSpace Repository School of Graduate Studies – Theses Doctoral
Biomedical and Psychosocial Factors Associated with Pain and Disability after Peripheral Nerve Injury
peripheral nerve; injury; outcome; disability; upper extremity
The main objective of my dissertation was to evaluate the biomedical and psychosocial factors associated with pain and disability in patients following traumatic upper extremity nerve injuries. This was approached by conducting 3 studies. The first study surveyed peripheral nerve surgeons regarding the assessment of pain in patients with nerve injury. The results showed that only 52% of surgeons always evaluate pain in patients referred for motor/sensory dysfunction. Pain assessment frequently includes verbal response and assessment of psychosocial factors is infrequent. The second study was a retrospective review to assess disability, as measured by the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), in patients with chronic nerve injury. Results showed substantial disability (mean DASH 52 + 22) and a significantly lower health status (p < 0.001) compared with well-established norms. In the regression model, the factors associated with the DASH (R2 = 44.5%) were pain, older age and nerve injured. The third study was a cross-sectional evaluation of the biomedical and psychosocial factors associated with pain and disability after upper extremity nerve injury in 158 patients. DASH scores were significantly higher in patients with workers’ compensation or litigation (p = 0.03), brachial plexus injuries (p < 0.001) and unemployed patients (p < 0.001). In the multivariable regression analysis, the final model explained 52.7% of the variance with these predictors; pain intensity (Beta = .230, p = 0.006), nerve injured (Beta = -.220, p = 0.000), time since injury (Beta = -.198, p = 0.002), pain catastrophizing (Beta = .192, p = 0.025), age (Beta = .187, p = 0.002), work status (Beta = .179, p = 0.008), cold sensitivity (Beta = .171, p = 0.015), depression score (Beta = .133, p = 0.066), workers’ compensation/litigation (Beta = .116, p = 0.049) and gender (Beta = -.104, p = 0.09). Future investigation regarding treatments of the factors that are associated with disability and chronic pain will assist to improve health related quality of life in patients with traumatic nerve injury.
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