Specific Score Identifies Potential Pain Duration in Musculoskeletal Disorders

Findings confirm that high painDETECT scores can be found in nearly all musculoskeletal conditions, are associated with much longer duration of daily pain, and can occur early after the onset of the current pain episode, but may not worsen over time.

Higher scores on the painDETECT questionnaire are associated with a longer duration of daily pain in patients with various musculoskeletal disorders, according to study results published in Pain Reports.

Outpatients from a single rheumatology unit completed the 7-item painDETECT questionnaire in 2018 (n=529). The 14-item hospital anxiety and depression scale was also used in this study. Researchers also obtained data on patients’ age, sex, familial history of chronic pain, RAPID3 pain score, mean length of daily pain, sleep duration at night, fatigue, and perceived social consequences of chronic pain.

Overall, participants had a mean painDETECT score of 14.14±7.59, with approximately 31% of patients reporting a painDETECT score >18. The mean painDETECT scores for the 11 diagnoses in this cohort were 21.2±6.0 for fibromyalgia, 17.8±8.2 for osteoarthritis, 16.1±6.8 for back pain and radiculopathies, 15.7±8.1 for osteoarthritis of the upper limbs, 15.1±7.2 for spondylarthrosis, 14.1±2.4 for entrapment neuropathies, 13.8±7.1 for rheumatoid arthritis, 13.8±8.2 for miscellaneous conditions, 13.4±7.9 for tendinitis, 11.5±6.7 for connectivitis, and 8.5±6.9 for osteoporosis.

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Patients with painDETECT scores >18 reported a longer duration of daily pain (12.41±8.45 vs 6.53±7.45 hours, respectively; P =.00001).

There were similar mean painDETECT scores for patients with pain <1 week in duration (13.7±8.2; 38% >18), patients with pain for 1 month (14.5±8.2; 25% >18), patients with pain for several months (12.7±7.3; 23% >18), patients with pain for 1 year (13.8±7.7; 29% >18), and patients with pain for several years (14.7±7.4; 33% >18).

A limitation of the study included the recruitment of patients from a single rheumatology unit, which may have resulted in a cohort not fully representative of all patients seen in private practice.

“This result confirms that painDETECT may have prognostic value,” the researchers wrote about their findings.

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Berthelot JM, Biha N, Darrieutort-Laffite C, Le Goff B, Maugars Y. Are painDETECT scores in musculoskeletal disorders associated with duration of daily pain and time elapsed since current pain onset? Pain Rep. 2019;4(3):e739.