Effectiveness of Pain Management Following Electrical Injury

Effectiveness of Pain Management Following Electrical Injury
Li, Adrienne L. K. BASc; Gomez, Manuel MD, MSc; Fish, Joel S. MD, MSc, FRCS(C)
Journal of Burn Care & Research:
January/February 2010 – Volume 31 – Issue 1 – pp 73-82
doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181cb8e94

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of pain management after electrical injury. A retrospective hospital chart review was conducted among electrically injured patients discharged from the outpatient burn clinic of a rehabilitation hospital (July 1, 1999, to July 31, 2008). Demographic data, numeric pain ratings (NPRs) at initial assessment and discharge, medications, nonpharmacologic modalities, and their effects before admission and after rehabilitation were collected. Pain management effects were compared between high (≥1000 v) and low (<1000 v) voltage, and between electrical contact and electrical flash patients, using Student’s t-test and χ2, with a P < .05 considered significant. Of 82 electrical patients discharged during the study period, 27 were excluded because of incomplete data, leaving 55 patients who had a mean age ±SD of 40.7 ± 11.3 years, TBSA of 19.2 ± 22.7%, and treatment duration of 16.5 ± 15.7 months. The majority were men (90.9%), most injuries occurred at work (98.2%), mainly caused by low voltage (n = 32, 58.2%), and the rest caused by high voltage (n = 18, 32.7%). Electrical contact was more common (54.5%) than electrical flash (45.5%). Pain was a chief complaint (92.7%), and hands were the most affected (61.8%), followed by head and neck (38.2%), shoulders (38.2%), and back torso (38.2%). Before rehabilitation, the most common medication were opioids (61.8%), relieving pain in 82.4%, followed by acetaminophen (47.3%) alleviating pain in 84.6%. Heat treatment was the most common nonpharmacologic modality (20.0%) relieving pain in 81.8%, followed by massage therapy (14.5%) alleviating pain in 75.0%. During the rehabilitation program, antidepressants were the most common medication (74.5%), relieving pain in 22.0%, followed by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (61.8%), alleviating pain in 70.6%. Massage therapy was the most common nonpharmacologic modality (60.0%), alleviating pain in 75.8%, and then cognitive behavioral therapy (54.5%), alleviating pain in 40.0%. There were pain improvements in all anatomic locations after rehabilitation except for the back torso, where pain increased 0.7 ± 2.9 points. Opioids were more commonly used in high voltage (P < .05), and cognitive behavioral therapy in low-voltage injuries (P < .05). Opioids were used in both electrical flash and electrical contact injuries. Pain in electrically injured patients remains an important issue and should continue to be addressed in a multimodal way. It is hoped that this study will guide us to design future interventions for pain control after electrical injury.