Chronic Pain and Traumatic Brain Injury in OEF/OIF Service Members and Veterans


  • Conflict of Interest: None of the authors have any conflicts to declare.

Address all correspondence to M.A. Bosco, Center for Post-Deployment Health and Education, James A. Haley VA Hospital, 13000 Bruce B Downs Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612, USA, email:


The co-occurrence of chronic pain and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are 2 of the most common concerns among the Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom population and present unique challenges for evaluation and treatment. Previous research suggests that almost half the cohort report clinically significant pain, while up to 1 in 4 experiences some form of TBI. There is limited information regarding how TBI affects the presence and course of pain, and how pain impacts TBI and its symptoms. The present paper provides an overview of the range and degree of TBIs as well as a brief summary of current knowledge regarding the interaction between chronic pain and TBI, particularly in light of the numerous variables impacting it. Information on ways to best assess for and treat pain in the TBI population, including in those with multiple system injuries or associated affective symptoms, is provided. In addition, several innovative approaches for addressing the needs of this complex cohort of patients are described, which may stimulate further research and clinical innovation for this important subgroup.