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Pain chronification and the important role of non-disease-specific symptoms in patients with systemic sclerosis


Evers, Caroline; Jordan, Suzana; Maurer, Britta; Becker, Mike Oliver; Mihai, Carina; Dobrota, Rucsandra; Hoederath, Petra; Distler, Oliver (2021). Pain chronification and the important role of non-disease-specific symptoms in patients with systemic sclerosis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 23:34.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Pain is a frequent, yet inadequately explored challenge in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). This study aimed to conduct an extensive pain assessment, examining pain chronification and its association with disease manifestations.

METHODS

Consecutive SSc patients attending their annual assessment were included. SSc-specific features were addressed as defined by the European Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) guidelines. Pain analysis included intensity, localization, treatment, chronification grade according to the Mainz Pain Staging System (MPSS), general well-being using the Marburg questionnaire on habitual health findings (MFHW) and symptoms of anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

RESULTS

One hundred forty-seven SSc patients completed a pain questionnaire, and 118/147 patients reporting pain were included in the analysis. Median pain intensity was 4/10 on a numeric rating scale (NRS). The most frequent major pain localizations were hand and lower back. Low back pain as the main pain manifestation was significantly more frequent in patients with very early SSc (p = 0.01); those patients also showed worse HADS and MFHW scores. Regarding pain chronification, 34.8% were in stage I according to the MPSS, 45.2% in stage II and 20.0% in stage III. There was no significant correlation between chronification grade and disease severity, but advanced chronification was significantly more frequent in patients with low back pain (p = 0.024). It was also significantly associated with pathological HADS scores (p < 0.0001) and linked with decreased well-being and higher use of analgesics.

CONCLUSIONS

Our study implies that also non-disease-specific symptoms such as low back pain need to be considered in SSc patients, especially in early disease. Since low back pain seems to be associated with higher grades of pain chronification and psychological problems, our study underlines the importance of preventing pain chronification in order to enhance the quality of life.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Pain is a frequent, yet inadequately explored challenge in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). This study aimed to conduct an extensive pain assessment, examining pain chronification and its association with disease manifestations.

METHODS

Consecutive SSc patients attending their annual assessment were included. SSc-specific features were addressed as defined by the European Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) guidelines. Pain analysis included intensity, localization, treatment, chronification grade according to the Mainz Pain Staging System (MPSS), general well-being using the Marburg questionnaire on habitual health findings (MFHW) and symptoms of anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

RESULTS

One hundred forty-seven SSc patients completed a pain questionnaire, and 118/147 patients reporting pain were included in the analysis. Median pain intensity was 4/10 on a numeric rating scale (NRS). The most frequent major pain localizations were hand and lower back. Low back pain as the main pain manifestation was significantly more frequent in patients with very early SSc (p = 0.01); those patients also showed worse HADS and MFHW scores. Regarding pain chronification, 34.8% were in stage I according to the MPSS, 45.2% in stage II and 20.0% in stage III. There was no significant correlation between chronification grade and disease severity, but advanced chronification was significantly more frequent in patients with low back pain (p = 0.024). It was also significantly associated with pathological HADS scores (p < 0.0001) and linked with decreased well-being and higher use of analgesics.

CONCLUSIONS

Our study implies that also non-disease-specific symptoms such as low back pain need to be considered in SSc patients, especially in early disease. Since low back pain seems to be associated with higher grades of pain chronification and psychological problems, our study underlines the importance of preventing pain chronification in order to enhance the quality of life.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Rheumatology Clinic and Institute of Physical Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:19 January 2021
Deposited On:02 Feb 2021 14:55
Last Modified:06 Feb 2021 04:32
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1478-6354
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-021-02421-1
PubMed ID:33468227

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