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      “I did not expect the doctor to treat a ghost”: a systematic review of published reports regarding chronic postamputation pain in British First World War veterans


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          Reviewing historic articles offers important learning points for current practice in chronic pain management and veterans' health, which is still a significant issue for military rehabilitation.


          Limb trauma remains the most prevalent survivable major combat injury. In the First World War, more than 700,000 British soldiers received limb wounds and more than 41,000 underwent an amputation, creating one of the largest amputee cohorts in history. Postamputation pain affects up to 85% of military amputees, suggesting that up to 33,000 British First World War veterans potentially reported postamputation pain. This qualitative systematic review explores the professional medical conversation around clinical management of chronic postamputation pain in this patient cohort, its development over the 20th century, and how this information was disseminated among medical professionals. We searched The Lancet and British Medical Journal archives (1914–1985) for reports referring to postamputation pain, its prevalence, mechanisms, descriptors, or clinical management. Participants were First World War veterans with a limb amputation, excluding civilians and veterans of all other conflicts. The search identified 9809 potentially relevant texts, of which 101 met the inclusion criteria. Reports emerged as early as 1914 and the discussion continued over the next 4 decades. Unexpected findings included early advocacy of multidisciplinary pain management, concerns over addiction, and the effect of chronic pain on mental health emerging decades earlier than previously thought. Chronic postamputation pain is still a significant issue for military rehabilitation. Similarities between injury patterns in the First World War and recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts mean that these historical aspects remain relevant to today's military personnel, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers.

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          Most cited references67

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          Chronic pain as a symptom or a disease

          Chronic pain is a major source of suffering. It interferes with daily functioning and often is accompanied by distress. Yet, in the International Classification of Diseases, chronic pain diagnoses are not represented systematically. The lack of appropriate codes renders accurate epidemiological investigations difficult and impedes health policy decisions regarding chronic pain such as adequate financing of access to multimodal pain management. In cooperation with the WHO, an IASP Working Group has developed a classification system that is applicable in a wide range of contexts, including pain medicine, primary care, and low-resource environments. Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists or recurs for more than 3 months. In chronic pain syndromes, pain can be the sole or a leading complaint and requires special treatment and care. In conditions such as fibromyalgia or nonspecific low-back pain, chronic pain may be conceived as a disease in its own right; in our proposal, we call this subgroup "chronic primary pain." In 6 other subgroups, pain is secondary to an underlying disease: chronic cancer-related pain, chronic neuropathic pain, chronic secondary visceral pain, chronic posttraumatic and postsurgical pain, chronic secondary headache and orofacial pain, and chronic secondary musculoskeletal pain. These conditions are summarized as "chronic secondary pain" where pain may at least initially be conceived as a symptom. Implementation of these codes in the upcoming 11th edition of International Classification of Diseases will lead to improved classification and diagnostic coding, thereby advancing the recognition of chronic pain as a health condition in its own right.
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            The IASP classification of chronic pain for ICD-11

            The upcoming 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) offers a unique opportunity to improve the representation of painful disorders. For this purpose, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has convened an interdisciplinary task force of pain specialists. Here, we present the case for a reclassification of nervous system lesions or diseases associated with persistent or recurrent pain for ≥3 months. The new classification lists the most common conditions of peripheral neuropathic pain: trigeminal neuralgia, peripheral nerve injury, painful polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, and painful radiculopathy. Conditions of central neuropathic pain include pain caused by spinal cord or brain injury, poststroke pain, and pain associated with multiple sclerosis. Diseases not explicitly mentioned in the classification are captured in residual categories of ICD-11. Conditions of chronic neuropathic pain are either insufficiently defined or missing in the current version of the ICD, despite their prevalence and clinical importance. We provide the short definitions of diagnostic entities for which we submitted more detailed content models to the WHO. Definitions and content models were established in collaboration with the Classification Committee of the IASP's Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG). Up to 10% of the general population experience neuropathic pain. The majority of these patients do not receive satisfactory relief with existing treatments. A precise classification of chronic neuropathic pain in ICD-11 is necessary to document this public health need and the therapeutic challenges related to chronic neuropathic pain.
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              Neuropathic pain: an updated grading system for research and clinical practice

              Abstract The redefinition of neuropathic pain as “pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system,” which was suggested by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Special Interest Group on Neuropathic Pain (NeuPSIG) in 2008, has been widely accepted. In contrast, the proposed grading system of possible, probable, and definite neuropathic pain from 2008 has been used to a lesser extent. Here, we report a citation analysis of the original NeuPSIG grading paper of 2008, followed by an analysis of its use by an expert panel and recommendations for an improved grading system. As of February, 2015, 608 eligible articles in Scopus cited the paper, 414 of which cited the neuropathic pain definition. Of 220 clinical studies citing the paper, 56 had used the grading system. The percentage using the grading system increased from 5% in 2009 to 30% in 2014. Obstacles to a wider use of the grading system were identified, including (1) questions about the relative significance of confirmatory tests, (2) the role of screening tools, and (3) uncertainties about what is considered a neuroanatomically plausible pain distribution. Here, we present a revised grading system with an adjusted order, better reflecting clinical practice, improvements in the specifications, and a word of caution that even the “definite” level of neuropathic pain does not always indicate causality. In addition, we add a table illustrating the area of pain and sensory abnormalities in common neuropathic pain conditions and propose areas for further research.

                Author and article information

                Pain Rep
                Pain Rep
                Pain Reports
                Wolters Kluwer (Philadelphia, PA )
                December 2023
                17 October 2023
                : 8
                : 6
                : e1094
                [a ]Pain Research, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
                [b ]The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies, Faculty of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
                [c ]The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom
                [d ]Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, United Kingdom
                [e ]The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Maidenhead, United Kingdom
                [f ]Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, United Kingdom
                [g ]Retired, Newton Ferrers, Plymouth, United Kingdom
                [h ]Department of Anaesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. Address: Pain Research, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom. Tel.: +4420 7589 511. E-mail address: s.dixon-smith18@ 123456imperial.ac.uk (S. Dixon Smith).
                Author information
                PAINREPORTS-D-23-0057 00003
                Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The International Association for the Study of Pain.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.

                : 24 May 2023
                : 13 June 2023
                : 21 July 2023
                Funded by: The Royal British Legion
                Award Recipient : Sarah Dixon Smith
                Pain Around the World
                Custom metadata

                chronic pain,postamputation pain,phantom limb pain,residual limb pain,british army,rehabilitation,military medicine,first world war,afghanistan,veterans,blast injury,applied history,systematic review,history


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