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Penn Nursing > Media > Veterans and PTSD > Pain and PTSD
Penn Nursing's Dr. Rosemary Polomano

Pain and PTSD

Rosemary C. Polomano, PhD, RN, FAAN

Associate Professor of Pain Practice, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

An expert in pain management, Dr. Rosemary Polomano conducts innovative research on the perceptions of pain among military personnel and on battlefield analgesia. With the high correlation between chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention to pain is critical. Dr. Polomano serves as co-investigator along with other Penn faculty on the Regional Anesthesia Military Battlefield Pain Outcomes Study (RAMBPOS) that evaluates pain and mental health outcomes among combat injured service members with major limb trauma. This study is led by a Philadelphia Veterans Medical Center physician, Rollin Gallagher, MD, and is funded by the Department of Defense. Injured service members are followed for 2 years following their combat injuries. Dr. Polomano is also a research consultant for the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM) at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She collaborates with Colonel Chester Buckenmaier, MD, director of the DVCIPM, and nurses on several research studies including aggressive pain control for combat sustained major extremity limb trauma, which indicate that injured soldiers benefit significantly from immediate pain blocks and from pain management by an anesthesiologist-directed acute pain service. The findings signal that acute pain services at combat hospitals can improve the delivery of effective pain care, and the management of combat casualties in modern warfare. Dr. Polomano is also involved in directing work on the validation of a new Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale as part of a DVCIPM initiative.

“The use of multiple analgesics is extremely important to the effective control of pain,” explains Dr. Polomano. “Nurses have important roles in understanding this therapy to maximize pain control and to be more proactive in monitoring patients, particularly those at high risk for PTSD.”

In one of the few studies of its type, Dr. Polomano and colleagues report in Pain Medicine on the impact of early aggressive anesthesia through an acute pain service at a combat support hospital. The study showed that regional anesthesia (nerve blocks) and epidural analgesia shortly after injury led to a statistically significant decrease in pain intensity. The authors describe this early intervention as being “of critical importance to the compassionate treatment” of battlefield injuries, and has implications to potentially reduce the risk of chronic pain states.

“The goal of battlefield analgesia is to provide early aggressive treatment of pain as close to the point of injury as possible and throughout the continuum of care,” wrote Dr. Polomano. “Significant advances in battlefield pain management have underscored the need for multimodal analgesia especially regional anesthesia/analgesia for major limb injuries.”

Biography »


  • Innovator in improving pain care for combat-injured soldiers and veterans
  • Expert in pain assessment and management
  • Frequent national advisor on pain science and pain management

Related Publications 

Survey of Military Health Care Professionals' Perception of  an Acute Pain Service at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
(Pain Medicine, 2012)

Impact of an Acute Pain Service on Pain Outcomes with Combat-Injured Soldiers at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
(Pain Medicine, 2012)

Pain Following Battlefield Injury and Evacuation: A Survey of 110 Casualties from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
(Pain Medicine, 2009)