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Chronic widespread body pain linked to past bone fractures

Posted January 8, 2016

Those who enjoy active lifestyle break their bones more often. Older people experience the same more often as well. However, no one is safe from such injuries, regardless of their lifestyle, age or other factors. Although it is a very painful experience, some people unlucky enough to break their bones might have noticed that pain is not always local in the place of the fracture.

Spine and hip fractures may lead to chronic widespread body pain later in life. Image credit:  Booyabazooka via Wikimedia, GFDL

Spine and hip fractures may lead to chronic widespread body pain later in life. Image credit: Booyabazooka via Wikimedia, GFDL

Scientists from the University of Southampton have found that everyone with fractured spine and women with fractured hips are more than twice as likely to experience long term widespread pain as those who had not had a fracture. In other words, people who have suffered fracture of a major bone are more likely to experience widespread chronic body pain in later life.

Nicholas Harvey, lead author of the study, said: “The causes of chronic widespread pain are poorly characterised, and this study is the first to demonstrate an association with past fracture. If confirmed in further studies, these findings might help us to reduce the burden of chronic pain following such fractures”.

Research used a wide database. Scientists used data from the UK Biobank cohort of 500,000 adults aged between 40 and 69 years old. They were trying to find associations between pas bone fractures of upper and lower limb, spine or hip and the presence of chronic widespread body pain. In order to be more accurate and unbiased about the results, scientists considered other factors as well, such as participant diet, lifestyle and body build and measures of psychological health. They concluded that those who had broken bones in the past (especially spine and hip fractures) have a higher risk of experiencing chronic widespread body pain.

It is actually a rather big problem and quite common. It often causes other health problems and even disability. There were studies linking injuries to chronic widespread body pain, but only now scientists have managed to find how it may be related to major bone fractures. Having these results doctors should be able to inform patients about possible risks better and scientists can continue exploring for methods to prevent chronic widespread body pain from happening.


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