Abstract: Body pain area and pain-related negative affect predict clinical pain intensity in patients with fibromyalgia

J Pain. 2004 Aug;5(6):338-43. Staud R, Price DD, Robinson ME, Vierck CJ Jr. Department of Medicine, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Patients with fibromyalgia (FM) report widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain. Palpation of 9 paired tender points (TPs) is commonly used for the diagnosis of FM according to criteria specified by the American College of Rheumatology. Although TP palpation can be used to assess deep tissue hypersensitivity, it has failed as a reliable indicator of clinical pain intensity in FM. The sum of local areas of pain (SLAP) obtained from a body pain diagram represents a relevant measure of the spatial extent of clinical pain, a feature most likely important for FM pain. Because spatial summation of pain can be an important determinant of clinical pain intensity, we hypothesized that this measure would predict clinical pain intensity in FM patients.

Because pain is strongly associated with negative emotions, we evaluated the relationship of pain-related negative affect (PRNA) with clinical pain intensity in FM. The independent contributions of SLAP, PRNA, and TP count to the variance of clinical pain intensity were assessed in 280 FM patients. Clinical pain intensity of 280 FM patients was measured by using a visual analogue scale. FM patients shaded all painful body areas on body pain diagrams. Dolorimetry was used for TP evaluations. PRNA was assessed with the Medical College of Virginia Pain Questionnaire. Hierarchical linear regression was used to test the association of SLAP, TPs, and PRNA with clinical pain intensity.

FM patients' mean visual analogue scale rating (0 to 100) of usual clinical pain was 50.1. Mean SLAP, TP count, and PRNA were 11.4, 16.0, and 44.3, respectively. Hierarchical linear regression analysis identified SLAP, TP count, and PRNA as independent predictors of clinical pain that accounted for 45% of the variance in clinical pain intensity ratings in FM patients. Consistent with the literature, TP count predicted only a small part (4%) of this variance. Our statistical model of body pain areas and negative affect predicts a large portion of the variance of pain intensity in FM. This result suggests that the extent of pain areas and negative emotions are uniquely associated with clinical pain intensity in FM.

PERSPECTIVE: The number of painful body areas obtained by body pain diagrams is a better predictor of clinical pain intensity than TPs in FM patients. The combination of painful body areas, TP counts, and PRNA predicts 45% of the clinical pain intensity of FM patients. This finding might be useful for clinical evaluations of FM patients. PMID: 15336638 [PubMed – in process]

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