A new study published in Spinal Cord has found that adults living with chronic pain due to spinal cord injury have an increased risk of developing mental health problems compared to people without the injury. These psychological issues include conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The study by a Michigan Medicine team of researchers analyzed private insurance claims for more than 9,000 adults with a traumatic spinal cord injury and more than 1,000,000 adults without the condition.
It was found that people living with a spinal cord injury were diagnosed with mental health conditions more often compared to those without the injury: 59.1% versus 30.9%. Past findings have also consistently shown higher levels of psychological morbidity throughout this group than the general population without spinal cord injuries.
Adults living with spinal cord injury were also associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, insomnia, and higher levels of stress among their mental health conditions. In many cases, patients report that chronic pain is an even more significant influence on their overall health than living with the injury itself.
Researchers believe that these findings should influence physicians to identify mental health conditions in patients with spinal cord injuries and refer them to mental health providers for treatment.
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As mental health can be connected to chronic pain, it is essential to focus on solutions for all conditions to live an overall healthier and happier life.