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The added value of bedside examination and screening QST to improve neuropathic pain identification in patients with chronic pain

Authors Timmerman H, Wilder-Smith OHG, Steegers MAH, Vissers KCP, Wolff AP

Received 21 October 2017

Accepted for publication 17 February 2018

Published 10 July 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 1307—1318

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S154698

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Minal Joshi

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael E Schatman


Hans Timmerman,1 Oliver HG Wilder-Smith,1,2 Monique AH Steegers,3 Kris CP Vissers,3 André P Wolff4

1Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 2Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; 3Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; 4Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Center, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands

Background: The assessment of a neuropathic pain component (NePC) to establish the neurological criteria required to comply with the clinical description is based on history taking, clinical examination, and quantitative sensory testing (QST) and includes bedside examination (BSE). The objective of this study was to assess the potential association between the clinically diagnosed presence or absence of an NePC, BSE, and the Nijmegen–Aalborg screening QST (NASQ) paradigm in patients with chronic (≥3 months) low back and leg pain or with neck shoulder arm pain or in patients with chronic pain due to suspected peripheral nerve damage.
Methods: A total of 291 patients participated in the study. Pain (absence or presence of neuropathic pain) was assessed independently by two physicians and compared with BSE (measurements of touch [finger, brush], heat, cold, pricking [safety pin, von Frey hair], and vibration). The NASQ paradigm (pressure algometry, electrical pain thresholds, and conditioned pain modulation) was assessed in 58 patients to generate new insights.
Results: BSE revealed a low association of differences between patients with either absent or present NePC: heat, cold, and pricking sensations with a von Frey hair were statistically significantly less common in patients with present NePC. NASQ did not reveal any differences between patients with and without an NePC.
Conclusion: Currently, a standardized BSE appears to be more useful than the NASQ paradigm when distinguishing between patients with and without an NePC.

Keywords: quantitative sensory testing, NASQ, Nijmegen–Aalborg screening QST, clinical assessment, diagnostic accuracy

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