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      How does reduction in pain lead to reduction in disability in patients with musculoskeletal pain?

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          Reduction in pain following multidisciplinary treatment is most often associated with a reduction in disability. To further elaborate the relationship between pain intensity and disability, the present study investigated three main questions: first, whether multidisciplinary treatment leads to a significant improvement in pain, disability and psychological variables (depression, pain acceptance and catastrophizing). Second, it was examined whether pain reduction may account for significant changes in the psychological variables (pre- to follow-up change scores). Finally, it was analyzed whether the psychological changes mediate the association between reduction in pain and in disability after controlling for age, sex and pain history.

          Patients and methods

          Patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain (n=279) attended a German inpatient multidisciplinary program lasting 15 consecutive days on average, with self-report data collected at pretreatment, posttreatment and three-month follow-up.


          Repeated measures ANOVAs showed a significant improvement in pain intensity, disability, pain acceptance, catastrophizing and depression at posttreatment and follow-up. Univariate regression analyses revealed that changes in pain intensity accounted for significant changes in depression, pain catastrophizing and pain acceptance (pre- to follow-up change scores). The results of Multiple Mediation Procedure showed that pain reduction did affect reduction in disability through improvement of depression, catastrophizing and acceptance.


          Our findings support a cognitive-behavioral model of pain that posits an important role for pain-related cognitive and emotional processes in long-term outcomes following multidisciplinary pain treatment, in particular for the modulation of disability due to pain. The results add evidence to the notion that pain-related cognitions are dynamic features varying over time dependent on the internal situation.


          The current findings are relevant to the management of patients with musculoskeletal pain. The results support the notion that, in contrast with the view of enduring personality traits, pain-related cognitions and emotions reflect a situational response that varies over time.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Theoretical perspectives on the relation between catastrophizing and pain.

          The tendency to "catastrophize" during painful stimulation contributes to more intense pain experience and increased emotional distress. Catastrophizing has been broadly conceived as an exaggerated negative "mental set" brought to bear during painful experiences. Although findings have been consistent in showing a relation between catastrophizing and pain, research in this area has proceeded in the relative absence of a guiding theoretical framework. This article reviews the literature on the relation between catastrophizing and pain and examines the relative strengths and limitations of different theoretical models that could be advanced to account for the pattern of available findings. The article evaluates the explanatory power of a schema activation model, an appraisal model, an attention model, and a communal coping model of pain perception. It is suggested that catastrophizing might best be viewed from the perspective of hierarchical levels of analysis, where social factors and social goals may play a role in the development and maintenance of catastrophizing, whereas appraisal-related processes may point to the mechanisms that link catastrophizing to pain experience. Directions for future research are suggested.
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            Pain catastrophizing and neural responses to pain among persons with fibromyalgia.

            Pain catastrophizing, or characterizations of pain as awful, horrible and unbearable, is increasingly being recognized as an important factor in the experience of pain. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the association between catastrophizing, as measured by the Coping Strategies Questionnaire Catastrophizing Subscale, and brain responses to blunt pressure assessed by functional MRI among 29 subjects with fibromyalgia. Since catastrophizing has been suggested to augment pain perception through enhanced attention to painful stimuli, and heightened emotional responses to pain, we hypothesized that catastrophizing would be positively associated with activation in structures believed to be involved in these aspects of pain processing. As catastrophizing is also strongly associated with depression, the influence of depressive symptomatology was statistically removed. Residual scores of catastrophizing controlling for depressive symptomatology were significantly associated with increased activity in the ipsilateral claustrum (r = 0.51, P < 0.05), cerebellum (r = 0.43, P < 0.05), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (r = 0.47, P < 0.05), and parietal cortex (r = 0.41, P < 0.05), and in the contralateral dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC; r = 0.43, P < 0.05), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (r = 0.41, P < 0.05), medial frontal cortex (r = 0.40, P < 0.05) and lentiform nuclei (r = 0.40, P < 0.05). Analysis of subjects classified as high or low catastrophizers, based on a median split of residual catastrophizing scores, showed that both groups displayed significant increases in ipsilateral secondary somatosensory cortex (SII), although the magnitude of activation was twice as large among high catastrophizers. Both groups also had significant activations in contralateral insula, SII, primary somatosensory cortex (SI), inferior parietal lobule and thalamus. High catastrophizers displayed unique activation in the contralateral anterior ACC, and the contralateral and ipsilateral lentiform. Both groups also displayed significant ipsilateral activation in SI, anterior and posterior cerebellum, posterior cingulate gyrus, and superior and inferior frontal gyrus. These findings suggest that pain catastrophizing, independent of the influence of depression, is significantly associated with increased activity in brain areas related to anticipation of pain (medial frontal cortex, cerebellum), attention to pain (dorsal ACC, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), emotional aspects of pain (claustrum, closely connected to amygdala) and motor control. These results support the hypothesis that catastrophizing influences pain perception through altering attention and anticipation, and heightening emotional responses to pain. Activation associated with catastrophizing in motor areas of the brain may reflect expressive responses to pain that are associated with greater pain catastrophizing.
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              Preliminary validity study of the pain disability index.

               C. S. Pollard (1984)

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                13 June 2019
                : 12
                : 1879-1890
                [1 ]Community Based Psychiatric Care Research Centre, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences , Shiraz, Iran
                [2 ]Pain Management Clinic at the Red Cross Hospital , Kassel, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Georg-Elias-Müller-Institute of Psychology, Georg-August-University , Göttingen, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Maryam ShayganFaculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences , P.O. Box 713451359, Shiraz, IranEmail m2620.shaygan@ 123456gmail.com
                © 2019 Shaygan et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 4, References: 71, Pages: 12
                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                psychological variables, disability, musculoskeletal pain


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