Measures of pain sensitivity may not be associated with long-term pain and disability outcomes in patients with chronic neck pain, according to a study published in Musculoskeletal Care.
The study included 64 participants with chronic neck pain for a period >3 months with an intensity >3 on a 0 to 10 scale and neck disability with a score >10 out of 50 on the Neck Disability Index. The predictor variables included clinical and quantitative sensory testing (in response to cold and pressure stimuli), neural tissue sensitivity, neuropathic symptoms, comorbidities, sleep, psychological distress, pain catastrophizing, pain intensity, and disability. The primary outcomes were pain intensity (average over the previous 7 days) and Neck Disability Index score at 12-month follow-up.
Univariable associations were established between most predictor variables and pain and disability (correlation factor, r >.3; P <.05). The only predictor variables without univariable associations were cold and pressure pain thresholds and cold sensitivity. Using multivariate analysis, the researchers were able to attribute 24.0% of the variance in disability at 12 months to psychological distress and comorbidities. For pain at 12 months, they were able to attribute 39.8% of the variance to baseline disability.
“Our data suggest that psychological and other health‐related factors play a more important role than pain sensitivity in explaining ongoing disability for people with chronic neck pain,” the researchers wrote.
Moloney N, Beales D, Azoory R, et al. Are measures of pain sensitivity associated with pain and disability at 12-month follow up in chronic neck pain? [published June 14, 2018]. Musculoskeletal Care. doi:10.1002/msc.1247