OBJECTIVE: We sought to estimate the prevalence and severity of tinnitus in patients with chronic pain. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted a prospective nonrandomized study in which a survey and the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) were distributed at a tertiary chronic pain clinic. RESULTS: Seventy-two patients participated. 50 women (mean age, 53 years) and 22 men (mean age, 47.5 years); 54.2% reported having tinnitus. There was an even distribution of patients reporting the onset of tinnitus as before versus after the onset of pain. Four patients reported a direct association between tinnitus and pain. The mean THI score was 27 (of 100) (n = 35). Fifteen subjects scored less than 16, indicating no handicap, and 4 scored over 58, indicating a severe handicap. CONCLUSION: The study results suggest a high incidence of tinnitus within this population. There were few strong associations between pain and tinnitus. Tinnitus does not significantly handicap the majority of these patients. SIGNIFICANCE: Tinnitus is a common symptom in the chronic pain population but is not a significant problem for these patients.
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