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NDORMS researchers are to study whether a pain management treatment using cognitive behavioural therapy will improve recovery for people who have had a major leg injury.

Broken leg in cast © SHUTTERSTOCK

Immediately after a major injury pain is expected. However, after an injury has healed, six out of every ten people continue to experience pain for years afterwards. Research has shown that people with long-term pain after a leg injury are more likely to develop long-term disability and have poorer quality of life than people who do not have pain.

It has also been found that beliefs and behaviours during recovery from injury can impact the outcome. For example, a person who believes they can perform activities whilst in pain will use less medication and be less disabled than those who believe they should not undertake activities if they experience pain.

David Keene, University Research Lecturer at NDORMS and lead researcher said: "Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has proved useful in long-term pain management, enabling patients to achieve a better quality of life. In this study we will use it much earlier after major injury to see if we can reduce the impact of pain and help improve recovery."

The treatment focuses on improving patient's confidence to manage pain and return to meaningful activities even if pain persists. It involves strategies such as planning daily activities, setting goals and relaxation exercises. Trained rehabilitation team members will introduce patients to the treatment prior to hospital discharge and sessions will continue afterwards.

The study will test the treatment by recruiting sixty patients after a major leg injury from five hospitals to a feasibility study to assess how it works in practice.

The team includes health researchers and clinical experts in psychology, pain, rehabilitation and surgery. It is being designed in collaboration with Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representatives who will help to produce the treatment materials and be involved throughout the study.

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