Patients with low back pain (LBP) often demonstrate pain sensitization, high degree of pain catastrophizing, and psychological distress. This study investigated whether pain sensitization mechanisms, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and Start Back Screening Tool were associated with pain in recurrent LBP patients 12 weeks after consulting their general practitioner (GP).
Materials and Methods:
In 45 LBP patients, pressure pain thresholds, temporal summation of pain (TSP), conditioned pain modulation (CPM), the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), and the PCS were assessed before consultation. Patients were classified into low to medium or high risk of poor prognosis on the basis of the Start Back Screening Tool. Worst pain within the last 24 hours was assessed on a visual analogue scale (VAS) at inclusion and 12 weeks after GP consultation.
VAS scores were reduced after 12 weeks in the low-to-medium (N=30, P<0.05), but not the high-risk group (N=15, P=0.40). RMDQ was reduced after 12 weeks (P<0.001), but with no difference between the groups. PCS was reduced in the low-to-medium and the high-risk group (P<0.05). TSP was significantly higher at follow-up in the high-risk group compared with the low-to-medium-risk group (P<0.05). A linear regression model explained 54.9% of the variance in VAS scores at follow-up utilizing baseline assessments of TSP, RMDQ, and PCS.
This study indicate that patients with LBP and high self-reported disability, high pain catastrophizing, and facilitated TSP assessed when consulting the GP might predictive poor pain progression 12 weeks after the consultation.