A greater number of pain sites and comorbid chronic pain conditions in chronic pain were found to be associated with sociodemographic factors including female gender, middle age, education, and disability status, according to study results published in the Journal of Pain.
Individuals across the United States who reported experiencing ≥6 months of recurring physical pain or discomfort were recruited using a random digit dialing system (n=2407). Study participants reported consistent pain severity, pain interference, and/or emotional burden related to pain in the past 6 months. Chronic pain adjustment profile (ie, pain intensity, pain interference, emotional burden, pain catastrophizing, pain coping, pain attitudes, and social resources) were evaluated, and anxiety and depression symptoms were assessed at 3-month follow-up in 181 participants.
The most prevalent chronic pain condition reported in this cohort was back pain (57.2%) and fibromyalgia was the least common (7.2%). The lower back was the most common pain site reported by participants (72.8%). Women were found to be more likely than men to report a greater number of chronic pain conditions (P <.001). A greater number of pain conditions and pain sites were reported more frequently by individuals without vs with a partner (pain conditions, P <.01; pain sites, P <.05), patients with an education not exceeding high school (pain conditions, P <.01; pain sites, P <.001), and in individuals with disability vs patients who were or were not working (pain conditions, P <.001; pain sites, P <.001).
Participants who reported a higher number of pain conditions reported a higher level of anxiety and depression at 3 months after adjusting for baseline pain-related anxiety and depressive symptoms, pain severity, and interference.
Study limitations include the use of self-reported data gathered during phone interviews rather than clinically confirmed reports.
“Our findings highlight how the assessment of multiple co-occurring pain conditions and pain sites can provide important information in understanding individuals’ adjustment to chronic pain and emotional distress,” noted the study authors.
Mun CJ, Ruehlman L, Karoly P. Examining the adjustment patterns of adults with multiple chronic pain conditions and multiple pain sites: More pain, no gain [published online June 12, 2019]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2019.06.002