Chronic Neuropathic Pain Following Hand Burns: Etiology, Treatment, and Long-Term Outcomes

Kevin M. Klifto, Pooja S. Yesantharao, A. Lee Dellon, C. Scott Hultman, Scott D. Lifchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Chronic neuropathic pain (CNP) after burn injury to the hand/upper extremity is relatively common, but not well described in the literature. This study characterizes patients with CNP after hand/upper extremity burns to help guide risk stratification and treatment strategies. We hypothesize that multiple risk factors contribute to the development of CNP and refractory responses to treatment. Methods: Patients older than 15 years admitted to the burn center after hand/upper extremity burns, from January 1, 2014, through January 1, 2019, were included. Chronic neuropathic pain was defined as self-described pain for longer than 6 months after burn injury, not including pain due to preexisting illness/medications. Two analyses were undertaken: (1) determining risk factors for developing CNP among patients with hand/upper extremity burns, and (2) determining risk factors for developing refractory pain (ie, nonresponsive to treatment) among hand/upper extremity burn patients with CNP. Results: Of the 914 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 55 (6%) developed CNP after hand/upper extremity burns. Twenty-nine of these patients (53%) had refractory CNP. Significant risk factors for developing CNP after hand/upper extremity burns included history of substance abuse and tobacco use. Among CNP patients, significant risk factors for developing refractory pain included symptoms of burning sensations. In all CNP patients, gabapentin and ascorbic acid were associated with significant decreases in pain scores on follow-up. Conclusions: Substance abuse and tobacco use may contribute to the development of CNP after hand/upper extremity burns. Those who developed refractory CNP were more likely to use the pain descriptor, burning sensations. Pharmacological pain management with gabapentin or pregabalin and ascorbic acid may provide the most relief of CNP symptoms. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67.e1-67.e9
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Ascorbic acid
  • burn
  • chronic pain
  • gabapentin
  • hand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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