Psychosocial Predictors of Chronic Pain 12 Months After Surgical Fixation for Lower Extremity Fracture: A Prospective Study

Joshua J. Van Wyngaarden, Kristin R. Archer, Jacquelyn S. Pennings, Paul E. Matuszewski, Brian Noehren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Pain is a common outcome after lower extremity fracture (LEF) requiring surgical fixation. Although psychosocial characteristics have meaningful associations with adverse outcomes, no studies have evaluated how psychosocial characteristics throughout recovery are associated with pain outcomes. The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether psychosocial characteristics are early risk factors for pain outcomes in patients following LEF who have no history of chronic pain. METHODS: Participants, 122 patients with a LEF, consented to this single-center, prospective cohort study. Measurements of depression, pain self-efficacy, pain catastrophizing, and fear of movement were completed at 1 week, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months after LEF. Chronic pain development and pain intensity were assessed at 12 months. Univariate analyses assessing the difference between means and corresponding effect sizes were evaluated between those individuals with and without chronic pain at 12 months. Separate logistic and linear regression models using psychosocial scores at each time point were used to determine the association with the development of chronic pain and pain intensity, respectively. RESULTS: Of 114 patients (93.4%) who completed the study, 51 (45%) reported chronic pain at 12 months. In the univariate analysis, all psychosocial variables at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months were significantly different between those with and those without chronic pain at 12 months (Cohen d range = 0.84 to 1.65). In the multivariate regression models, all psychosocial variables at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months were associated with chronic pain development (odds ratio range = 1.04 to 1.22) and pain intensity (β range = .05 to .14) at 12 months. CONCLUSION: Psychosocial scores as early as 6 weeks after surgery are associated with pain outcomes 12 months after LEF. IMPACT: Physical therapists should consider adding psychosocial screening throughout recovery after LEF to identify patients at increased risk for long-term pain outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 6 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the DRDP (Departmental Research and Development Fund) from Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) and DST-PURSE, SPPU.

Funding Information:
GK acknowledges financial assistance as fellowship from DST-PURSE, SPPU.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Physical Therapy Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Chronic Pain
  • Fear Avoidance Model
  • Lower Extremity Fracture
  • Psychosocial Factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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