Wimbledon Clinics

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Spine or hip fracture may lead to widespread body pain

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People who break a major bone may face a greater risk of chronic body pain in later life, and not just at the site of the fracture, according to a new study published in Archives of Osteoporosis.

Researchers at the University of Southampton´s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit found that 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 those who had not had a fracture.

Lead researcher Nicholas Harvey, Professor of Rheumatology and Clinical Epidemiology, commented: “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.”

The research team conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the UK Biobank cohort of 500,000 adults aged between 40 and 69, investigating associations between a past history of fracture affecting upper and lower limb, spine or hip and the presence of chronic widespread body pain.

After taking into account possible effects of a wide range of other factors, they found that the risk of chronic widespread pain was increased if participants reported having a past fracture, especially spine or hip fracture.

Previous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of chronic widespread pain following traumatic events, but none have directly linked to skeletal fractures, Professor Harvey said.

The new findings may help health professionals identify those most at risk of chronic widespread pain post-fracture, allowing preventative measures to be targeted.