Military chronic musculoskeletal pain and psychiatric comorbidity: Is better pain management the answer?

Cindy A. McGeary, Donald D. McGeary, Jose Moreno, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Chronic musculoskeletal pain, such as low back pain, often appears in the presence of psychiatric comorbidities (e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)), especially among U.S. military service members serving in the post-9/11 combat era. Although there has been much speculation about how to best address pain/trauma psychiatric symptom comorbidities, there are little available data to guide practice. The present study sought to examine how pre-treatment depression and PTSD influence outcomes in a functional restoration pain management program using secondary analysis of data from the Department of Defense-funded Functional and Orthopedic Rehabilitation Treatment (FORT) trial. Twenty-eight FORT completers were analyzed using a general linear model exploring how well depression and PTSD symptoms predict post-treatment pain (Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain rating), disability (Oswestry Disability Index; Million Visual Analog Scale), and functional capacity (Floor-to-Waist and Waist-to-Eye Level progressive isoinertial lifting evaluation scores) in a sample of active duty military members with chronic musculoskeletal pain and comorbid depression or PTSD symptoms. Analysis revealed that pre-treatment depression and PTSD symptoms did not significantly predict rehabilitation outcomes from program completers. Implications of these findings for future research on trauma-related pain comorbidities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2016


  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain
  • Depression
  • Low back pain
  • Military service members
  • PTSD
  • Psychiatric comorbidities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Leadership and Management


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