The researchers looked at a group of more than 2,000 people in the United Kingdom over the course of four years. More than one-third of participants reported experiencing at least one physically traumatic event during the study period. Traumatic events included traffic accidents, work-place injuries, hospitalizations or surgeries and childbirth. Researchers say those who reported being in a traffic accident were more likely to develop chronic widespread pain, although the numbers weren’t statistically significant. Those most prone to developing chronic widespread pain appeared to be people who had poorer health or psychological issues before the accident.

In their paper, the researchers write, “Further research should examine what is peculiar about a (traffic) accident – or about one’s reaction to it – that confers this increase in the risk of chronic widespread pain onset.”

Jennifer Solomon, MD, a physiatrist at Women’s Sport Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City says she’s more impressed with the first study than the second.

“This study provides strong evidence of a relationship between childhood physical abuse and functional somatic syndromes using a representative community-based sample. Future studies need to be performed looking at more objective measures with regards to the type and degree of abuse and the relationship between functional somatic syndromes,” Dr. Solomon says.

Dr. Solomon says, while the findings from the second study are interesting, because the results aren’t statistically significant she doesn’t believe real conclusions can be drawn from the data until more research on the topic is done.