Neuropathic sensory symptoms: association with pain and psychological factors
Maryam Shaygan,1 Andreas Böger,2 Birgit Kröner-Herwig1
1Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Göttingen, Germany; 2Pain Management Clinic at the Red Cross Hospital, Kassel, Germany
Background: A large number of population-based studies of chronic pain have considered neuropathic sensory symptoms to be associated with a high level of pain intensity and negative affectivity. The present study examines the question of whether this association previously found in non-selected samples of chronic pain patients can also be found in chronic pain patients with underlying pathology of neuropathic sensory symptoms.
Methods: Neuropathic sensory symptoms in 306 patients with chronic pain diagnosed as typical neuropathic pain, radiculopathy, fibromyalgia, or nociceptive back pain were assessed using the Pain DETECT Questionnaire. Two separate cluster analyses were
performed to identify subgroups of patients with different levels of self-reported neuropathic sensory symptoms and, furthermore, to identify subgroups of patients with distinct patterns
of neuropathic sensory symptoms (adjusted for individual response bias regarding specific symptoms).
Results: ANOVA (analysis of variance) results in typical neuropathic pain, radiculopathy, and fibromyalgia showed no significant differences between the three levels of neuropathic sensory symptoms regarding pain intensity, pain chronicity, pain catastrophizing, pain acceptance, and depressive symptoms. However, in nociceptive back pain patients, significant differences were found for all variables except pain chronicity. When controlling for the response bias of patients in ratings of symptoms, none of the patterns of neuropathic sensory symptoms were associated with pain and psychological factors.
Conclusion: Neuropathic sensory symptoms are not closely associated with higher levels of pain intensity and cognitive-emotional evaluations in chronic pain patients with underlying pathology of neuropathic sensory symptoms. The findings are discussed in term of differential response bias in patients with versus without verified neuropathic sensory symptoms by
clinical examination, medical tests, or underlying pathology of disease. Our results lend support to the importance of using adjusted scores, thereby eliminating the response bias, when investigating self-reported neuropathic symptoms by patients.
Keywords: self-reported neuropathic sensory symptoms, pain-related features, response bias
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