Do central hypersensitivity and altered pain modulation predict the course of chronic low back and neck pain?
Mlekusch S., Schliessbach J., Cámara RJA., Arendt-Nielsen L., Jüni P., Curatolo M.
OBJECTIVES: Widespread central hypersensitivity and altered conditioned pain modulation (CPM) have been documented in chronic pain conditions. Information on their prognostic values is limited. This study tested the hypothesis that widespread central hypersensitivity (WCH) and altered CPM, assessed during the chronic phase of low back and neck pain, predict poor outcome. METHODS: A total of 169 consecutive patients with chronic low back or neck pain, referred to the pain clinic during 1 year, were analyzed. Pressure pain tolerance threshold at the second toe and tolerance time during cold pressor test at the hand assessed WCH. CPM was measured by the change in pressure pain tolerance threshold (test stimulus) after cold pressor test (conditioning stimulus). A structured telephone interview was performed 12 to 15 months after testing to record outcome parameters. Linear regression models were used, with average and maximum pain intensity of the last 24 hours at follow-up as endpoints. Multivariable analyses included sex, age, catastrophizing scale, Beck Depression Inventory, pain duration, intake of opioids, and type of pain syndrome. RESULTS: Statistically significant reductions from baseline to follow-up were observed in pain intensity (P<0.001). No evidence for an association between the measures of WCH or CPM and intensity of chronic pain at follow-up was found. DISCUSSION: A major predictive value of the measures that we used is unlikely. Future studies adopting other assessment modalities and possibly standardized treatments are needed to further elucidate the prognostic value of WCH and altered CPM in chronic pain.