The purpose of this study was to explore the associations between pain-related fear, pain disability, and self-perceived recovery among patients with sciatica and disk herniation followed up for 2 years.
Pain-related fear was measured by the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK) and the Fear-Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire-Physical Activity (FABQ-PA) subscale. Disability was measured by the Maine–Seattle Back Questionnaire. At 2 years, patients reported their sciatica/back problem on a global change scale ranging from completely gone to much worse. No specific interventions regarding pain-related fear were provided.
Complete data were obtained for 372 patients. During follow-up, most patients improved. In those who at 2 years were fully recovered (n=66), pain-related fear decreased substantially. In those who did not improve (n=50), pain-related fear remained high. Baseline levels of pain-related fear did not differ significantly between those who were fully recovered and the rest of the cohort. In the total cohort, the correlation coefficients between the 0–2-year change in disability and the changes in the TSK and the FABQ-PA were 0.33 and 0.38, respectively. In the adjusted regression models, the 0–2-year change in pain-related disability explained 15% of the variance in the change in both questionnaires.
Pain-related fear decreased substantially in patients who recovered from sciatica and remained high in those who did not improve. Generally, the TSK and the FABQ-PA yielded similar results. To our knowledge, this is the first study that has assessed pain-related fear in patients who recover from sciatica.