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Case Reports in Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 973234, 6 pages
Case Report

The Christchurch Earthquake: Crush Injury, Neuropathic Pain, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

1Department of Anaesthesia, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand
2Department of Anaesthesia, University of Otago, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand

Received 10 April 2013; Accepted 26 June 2013

Academic Editor: Hitoshi Okamura

Copyright © 2013 Frances Cammack and Edward A. Shipton. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


On February 22, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck Christchurch, New Zealand. The peak ground acceleration, a measure of the shaking or intensity of an earthquake, was one of the highest ever recorded worldwide. One hundred and eighty-five people lost their lives; many others were injured. Two cases both involving young women are presented; they sustained crush injuries to limbs after being trapped by falling debris and went on to develop severe neuropathic pain. This report examines the mechanisms of neuropathic pain in the setting of crush injury, the treatment modalities, and the association between chronic pain and posttraumatic stress disorder. These case reports highlight the fact that crush injury is relatively common during major earthquakes and that neuropathic pain is an important sequel of this. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common in earthquake survivors with a recognised association with chronic pain. Pain-related disability may increase as well. Issues such as chronic pain and physical disability should not be overlooked as attention focuses on disaster management and the treatment of life-threatening injuries.