Pain catastrophizing may be associated with reduced psychological — and to a lesser extent physical —function in patients with neuropathic pain and spinal pain, according to a study published in the Journal of Pain.

In this cross-sectional study, a total of 334 patients with neuropathic pain (n=34), osteoarthritis (n=78), or spinal pain (n=222) were included. Psychological function was evaluated with a 5-item questionnaire, physical function was assessed with the Short Form-8 survey, and insomnia was evaluated using the Insomnia Severity Index.

Catastrophizing was found to be associated with psychological function (P <.001), physical function (P <.01), and insomnia severity (P <.001).

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Perceived solicitous responding was found to be associated with reduced insomnia severity (P <.05). Individuals with spinal or neuropathic pain vs osteoarthritis-associated pain exhibited greater levels of catastrophizing and impaired psychological function.

Study limitations include an inability to infer causal relationships for associations.

”The findings suggest the possibility that reducing catastrophizing in the treatment of psychological distress might be more effective in spinal pain conditions relative to other pain conditions.”

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Glette M, Landmark T, Jensen MP, et al. Catastrophizing, solicitous responses from significant others and function in individuals with neuropathic pain, osteoarthritis or spinal pain in the general population [published online March 29, 2018]. J Pain. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2018.03.010