Posttraumatic Stress Disorders in Civilian Orthopaedics

Daniel L. Aaron, MD, Paul D. Fadale, MD, Colin J. Harrington, MD and Christopher T. Born, MD

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a well-characterized anxiety disorder that may occur after exposure to a traumatic event. Research is ongoing to document neuroanatomic, neuroendocrine, and genetic correlates to the behavioral phenotype. PTSD occurs in 20% to 51% of patients with musculoskeletal injury. Orthopaedic outcomes, including return to work, activities of daily living, patient perception of physical recovery, and objective physical parameters, suffer considerably in patients with PTSD. There are several ways by which treating orthopaedic surgeons can recognize at-risk patients and help prevent the development of PTSD. Should prevention prove unsuccessful, effective treatment strategies exist, as well. Research is needed to investigate whether a correlation exists between successful management of the psychiatric manifestations of PTSD and improved physical outcomes.

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