Individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) report increased rates of chronic pain. Photosensitivity is also a common chronic symptom following TBI and is prevalent among other types of chronic pain. The aim of this study was to better understand the relationship between chronic pain, pain-related disability, and photosensitivity in a TBI population. We quantified participants' visual photosensitivity thresholds (VPT) using an Ocular Photosensitivity Analyzer and measured pressure-pain sensitivity using pressure algometry. Participants also completed a battery of self-report measures related to chronic pain, TBI history, and mental health. A total of 395 participants completed testing, with 233 reporting a history of TBI. The TBI group was divided into 120 symptomatic TBI participants (s-TBI), and 113 asymptomatic TBI participants (a-TBI) based on their Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI) scores. Participants in the s-TBI group scored significantly higher on self-reported chronic pain measures compared with a-TBI and no-TBI participants, including the Symptom Impact Questionnaire Revised (SIQR; p < 0.001) and the Michigan Body Map (MBM; p < 0.001). Despite differences in chronic pain complaints, groups displayed similar pressure-pain thresholds (p = 0.270). Additionally, s-TBI participants were more sensitive to light (lower VPT, p < 0.001), and VPT was correlated with SIQR scores across all participants (R = -0.452, p < 0.001). These data demonstrate that photosensitivity is associated with self-reported chronic pain and disability in individuals with chronic TBI symptomatology. Photosensitivity could therefore serve as a simple, more highly quantitative marker of high-impact chronic pain after TBI.
- chronic pain
- photosensitivity, polytrauma triad
- traumatic brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology