SAN DIEGO — Headaches and other type of pain are frequent complaints among veterans of Gulf War I (1990-91) and Post-Gulf War I (1992-2015), according to a new study.

An article in SAGE Open Med sought to answer two questions:

  • What is the difference in the prevalence of headaches, pain and other associated symptoms between Gulf War I (1990-1991) and Post-Gulf War I (1992-2015) veterans who served as active military personnel in the Persian Gulf?
  • How did durations of deployment affect the prevalence of those symptoms?1

Included in this retrospective chart review study were 367 veterans who were accepted to the Gulf War Registry at the VA San Diego Healthcare System between July 2013 and June 2015. San Diego VAMC-led researchers grouped them according to the Gulf War period they served under or how long they had been deployed to the Persian Gulf.

Results indicated that veterans who served during Post-Gulf War I or both Gulf War I and Post-Gulf War I exhibited more pain and neurological symptoms than Gulf War I veterans (p = 0.005, p = 0.003). Researchers also pointed out that veterans who served more than 12 months reported more overall pain symptoms and analgesic use than those who served less time (p < 0.001, p = 0.024).

“The findings suggest that the length of deployment and Persian Gulf deployment period may play a role in acquiring headaches, pain and other associated symptoms with increased analgesic consumption,” the authors concluded.

  1. Lei K, Metzger-Smith V, Golshan S, Javors J, Leung A. The prevalence of headaches, pain, and other associated symptoms in different Persian Gulf deployment periods and deployment durations. SAGE Open Med. 2019 Aug26;7:2050312119871418. doi: 10.1177/2050312119871418. eCollection 2019. PubMedPMID: 31489191; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6712755.