A majority of sexual assault victims experience severe pain in the early aftermath of the crime but less than a third of these victims receive pain medications, according to research in The Journal of Pain, the peer review publication of the American Pain Society.
One in five U.S women experiences a sexual assault in their lifetimes. Like other physical trauma, severe acute pain occurs in sexual assault cases. When physical trauma is limited, factors such as stress-induced hyperalgesia may contribute to post-assault pain. Researchers from the University of North Carolina evaluated the distribution and severity of pain in sexual assault victims who presented for medical care from sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) programs.
This was the first prospective study of pain symptoms in the early aftermath of sexual assault. Female sexual assault survivors 18 years and older who sought a SANE evaluation within 48 hours of the crime were recruited for the study. The subjects were questioned about pain intensity in eight body regions and asked to rate pain severity on a 1- to-10 scale.
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