The prevalence of neuropathic pain approaches 10% in Canada and the United States. Given the aging population and the increasing survival rates following interventions for neuropathic pain, the prevalence of neuropathic pain conditions is expected to rise significantly over the next 20 years. Although pharmacological interventions represent the dominant treatment approach for neuropathic pain, as many as 50% of patients are partially or completely refractory to the available treatments. Pain catastrophizing has been associated with heightened pain experiences in patients with neuropathic pain conditions; however, the clinical relevance of the relationship between catastrophizing and poor treatment outcomes is, to date, unclear. Accordingly, using a numerical rating scale, this study aimed to examine this relationship in patients with varied neuropathic pain conditions who completed a measure of catastrophizing before initiating a course of topical analgesic.
Previous research suggests that high levels of pain catastrophizing might predict poorer response to pharmacological interventions for neuropathic pain.
The present study sought to examine the clinical relevance of the relation between catastrophizing and analgesic response in individuals with neuropathic pain. Clinically meaningful reductions were defined in terms of the magnitude of reductions in pain through the course of treatment, and in terms of the number of patients whose end-of-treatment pain ratings were below 4/10.
Patients (n=82) with neuropathic pain conditions completed a measure of pain catastrophizing at the beginning of a three-week trial examining the efficacy of topical analgesics for neuropathic pain.
Consistent with previous research, high scores on the measure of pain catastrophizing prospectively predicted poorer response to treatment. Fewer catastrophizers than noncatastrophizers showed moderate (≥2 points) or substantial reductions in pain ratings through the course of treatment. Fewer catastrophizers than noncatastrophizers achieved end-of-treatment pain ratings below 4/10.
The results of the present study suggest that the development of brief interventions specifically targeting catastrophic thinking might be useful for enhancing the effects of pharmacological interventions for neuropathic pain. Furthermore, failure to account for the level of catastrophizing might contribute to null findings in clinical trials of analgesic medication.
Catastrophizing; Neuropathic pain; Topical analgesics; Treatment efficacy
Pain is among the most frequently-reported, bothersome, and disabling symptoms described by patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and the experience of pain is partially shaped by catastrophizing, a set of cognitive and emotional pain-related processes. However, other variables may moderate catastrophizing’s influence on the experience of pain. In this study, we investigated a variety of factors that might buffer or magnify catastrophizing’s deleterious consequences among patients with RA.
A total of 185 RA patients were surveyed to determine levels of catastrophizing, pain, general psychological distress, and physical functioning.
Catastrophizing was associated with increased pain severity and psychological distress, and with poorer physical functioning. Some of these relationships were significantly moderated by education and social functioning; among RA patients with above-average social functioning and a college education, minimal relationships of catastrophizing with pain and distress symptoms were observed, while these associations were highly significant (p’s< .001) among patients with lower levels of education or social functioning.
Collectively, educational achievement and positive social interactions may protect against some of the deleterious effects of catastrophizing. The design of future interventions to reduce catastrophizing, or ameliorate its impact on pain outcomes, may benefit from further study of these subgroups of patients.
Pain; Coping; Catastrophizing; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Education
This study investigated whether catastrophic thinking about pain by children with functional abdominal pain or by their parents is associated with health outcomes in the child. Subjects were 132 parent-child dyads. Child catastrophizing predicted child depression, anxiety and functional disability. Parents’ catastrophizing cognitions about their own pain predicted self-reported protective responses to their children’s abdominal pain (responding in ways that encourage illness behavior). Protectiveness, in turn, predicted child functional disability. All findings held despite controlling for child age, gender, and symptom severity. These results suggest that catastrophic cognitions play an important role in how children and parents cope and respond to functional abdominal pain, and may have implications for assessment and treatment in the clinical setting.
Catastrophizing; Abdominal pain; Children; Illness behavior; Functional disability
Alexithymia is a disturbance in awareness and cognitive processing of affect that is associated with over-reporting of physical symptoms, including pain. The relationship between alexithymia and other psychological constructs that are often associated with pain has yet to be evaluated.
The present study examined the importance of alexithymia in the pain experience in relation to other integral psychological components of Turk’s diathesis-stress model of chronic pain and disability, including fear of pain, anxiety sensitivity, pain avoidance and pain catastrophizing.
Heat pain stimuli, using a magnitude estimation procedure, and five questionnaires (Anxiety Sensitivity Index, Fear of Pain Questionnaire III, Pain Catastrophizing Scale, avoidance subscale of the Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale-20 and Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20) were administered to 67 undergraduate students (44 women) with a mean (± SD) age of 20.39±3.77 years.
Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that sex, fear of pain and alexithymia were the only significant predictors of average heat pain intensity (F[6, 60]=5.43; R2=0.35; P=0.008), accounting for 6.8%, 20.0% and 9.6% of unique variance, respectively. Moreover, the difficulty identifying feelings and difficulty describing feelings subscales, but not the externally oriented thinking subscale of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 significantly predicted average heat pain intensity.
Individuals with higher levels of alexithymia or increased fear of pain reported higher average pain intensity ratings. The relationship between alexithymia and pain intensity was unrelated to other psychological constructs usually associated with pain. These findings suggest that difficulties with emotion regulation, either through reduced emotional awareness via alexithymia or heightened emotional awareness via fear of pain, may negatively impact the pain experience.
Alexithymia; Fear of pain; Heat pain stimulation; Pain intensity; Undergraduates
Pain-related coping, particularly catastrophizing, plays a significant role in shaping pain responses. One way catastrophizing is hypothesized to amplify pain and disability is via its effect on patients, social environments (e.g., communal coping model), though empirical support is limited. The present study tested whether the association between catastrophizing and deleterious pain-related outcomes was mediated by patients’ perceptions of significant others’ responses to their pain in a sample of 1,356 pain patients. Regression analyses showed that perceived significant other punishing responses partially mediated catastrophizing’s relationship with pain-related disability, and with depressive symptoms. Further, several variables moderated the association between catastrophizing and perceived social responses to pain. Catastrophizing was more strongly associated with greater perceived solicitous responses for patients of relatively short pain duration. Also, higher catastrophizing was more strongly associated with perceived punishing responses among patients perceiving lower social support. In addition, the mediational effects of perceived punishing responses on catastrophizing’s relationship with depressive symptoms, and with pain-related disability were only found in individuals reporting low levels of perceived social support. In sum, perceived social responses were found to play a small role in mediating the relationship between catastrophizing and pain-related outcomes, and these mediational effects may be strongest in particular patient subgroups. The present data suggest that interpersonal mechanisms may not constitute a primary route by which catastrophizing exerts its maladaptive effects on pain responses. The study and further understanding of what principal factors mediate catastrophizing’s deleterious effects on pain will be important in illuminating the biopsychosocial model of pain.
Chronic Pain; Pain; Catastrophizing; Communal Coping Model; Solicitous Responses; Punishing Responses
Fibromyalgia (FM), characterized by wide-spread diffuse pain and sensory abnormalities, is associated with elevated indices of distress and pain-related catastrophizing compared to both pain-free samples and those with chronic pain conditions. Catastrophizing is a pervasive negative mental set, and is a strong predictor of negative pain-related outcomes such as clinical pain intensity, and physical disability. Situational catastrophizing, measured in the context of experimentally-induced pain, is strongly related to enhanced pain sensitivity, a core aspect of the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia. However, little is known regarding the temporal course of the association between catastrophizing and pain-related "outcomes". Most studies involve only static assessments of pain and catastrophizing at a single time point, which provides little insight into the direction of the observed associations. We sought to investigate the temporal relationships between catastrophizing and indices of both clinical pain (substudy 1) and experimentally-induced pain (substudy 2) in a larger randomized controlled longitudinal trial.
Fifty-seven patients with FM completed catastrophizing, depression, and pain questionnaires as well as laboratory cold pressor pain testing at baseline, post-intervention and three month follow-up during a lifestyle physical activity study. Cross-lagged panel analyses were used to address these temporal relationships.
In substudy 1, analyses revealed that pre-to-post changes in dispositional catastrophizing ratings prospectively accounted for unique variance in subsequent post-to-follow-up changes in clinical pain ratings (p = 0.005), while pre-to-post changes in pain ratings did not account for unique variance in post-to-follow-up changes in catastrophizing ratings. An identical pattern was observed experimentally in substudy 2, with pre-to-post changes in situational catastrophizing ratings prospectively accounting for unique variance in subsequent post-to-follow-up changes in experimental pain ratings (p = 0.014), while pre-to-post changes in pain ratings did not account for unique variance in post-to-follow-up changes in catastrophizing ratings. Specifically, initial alterations in catastrophizing were associated with subsequent alterations in clinical and experimentally induced pain. Controlling for levels of depression did not affect the results.
These findings provide empirical evidence that catastrophizing processes might precede and contribute to subsequent alterations in the pain experience for FM patients.
Among psychologically distressed Cambodian refugees, somatic complaints are particularly prominent. Cambodians interpret anxiety-related somatic sensations in terms of “Wind” (khyâl), an ethnophysiology that gives rise to multiple catastrophic interpretations; and they have prominent trauma-memory associations to anxiety-related somatic symptoms. In this article, we detail some of the common sensation-related dysphoric networks of Cambodian refugees, focusing on catastrophic cognitions and trauma associations. We argue that delineating symptom-related dysphoric networks is crucial to successfully adapt cognitive-behavioral interventions to treat panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder among Cambodian refugees, and that such an approach may be useful for the culturally sensitive adaptation of cognitive-behavior therapy for other traumatized non-Western groups.
Pain catastrophizing is generally viewed as an important cognitive factor underlying chronic pain. The present study examined personality and temperament correlates of pain catastrophizing in a sample of young adolescents (N = 132). Participants completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale for Children, as well as scales for measuring sensitivity of the behavioral inhibition and behavioral activation systems (BIS-BAS), and various reactive and regulative temperament traits. Results demonstrated that BIS, reactive temperament traits (fear and anger-frustration), and perceptual sensitivity were positively related to pain catastrophizing, whereas regulative traits (attention control, inhibitory control) were negatively associated with this cognitive factor. Further, regression analyses demonstrated that only BIS and the temperamental traits of fear and perceptual sensitivity accounted for a unique proportion of the variance in adolescents’ pain catastrophizing scores.
Temperament; Personality; Pain catastrophizing; Adolescents
Exercise involvement has been shown to have hypoalgesic effects and cognitive factors may partially explain this effect. Particularly, alterations in pain catastrophizing have been found to mediate the positive pain outcomes of multidisciplinary treatments incorporating exercise. Further, recent evidence suggests that exercise involvement and anxiety sensitivity may act together, as interacting factors, to exert an effect on catastrophizing and pain outcomes; however, further research is needed to clarify the nature of this interaction. In this study we developed a model to investigate the cross-sectional associations among self-reported weekly strenuous exercise bouts, anxiety sensitivity, and their interaction with pain catastrophizing and pain responses to the cold pressor task (CPT) in healthy, ethnically diverse young adults (N = 79).
Prior to the CPT, participants were asked to complete the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index. Following the CPT participants completed a modified version of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and the Short Form-McGill Pain Questionnaire.
At a high level of anxiety sensitivity, controlling for depressive symptoms, CPT immersion time, and sex differences, a bias-corrected (BC), bootstrapped confidence interval revealed that pain catastrophizing significantly mediated the relation between self-reported weekly strenuous exercise bouts and pain response (95% BC Confidence Interval: (−9.558, −0.800) with 1000 resamples). At intermediate and low levels of anxiety sensitivity, no significant mediation effects were found.
These findings support that for pain catastrophizing to mediate the strenuous exercise-pain response relation, individuals must possess a high level of anxiety sensitivity.
strenuous exercise; pain catastrophizing; anxiety sensitivity; moderated mediation; bootstrap
Dispositional optimism has been shown to beneficially influence various experimental and clinical pain experiences. One possibility that may account for decreased pain sensitivity among individuals who report greater dispositional optimism is less use of maladaptive coping strategies like pain catastrophizing, a negative cognitive/affective response to pain. An association between dispositional optimism and conditioned pain modulation (CPM), a measure of endogenous pain inhibition, has previously been reported. However, it remains to be determined whether dispositional optimism is also associated with temporal summation (TS), a measure of endogenous pain facilitation. The current study examined whether pain catastrophizing mediated the association between dispositional optimism and TS among 140 older, community-dwelling adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Individuals completed measures of dispositional optimism and pain catastrophizing. TS was then assessed using a tailored heat pain stimulus on the forearm. Greater dispositional optimism was significantly related to lower levels of pain catastrophizing and TS. Bootstrapped confidence intervals revealed that less pain catastrophizing was a significant mediator of the relation between greater dispositional optimism and diminished TS. These findings support the primary role of personality characteristics such as dispositional optimism in the modulation of pain outcomes by abatement of endogenous pain facilitation and less use of catastrophizing.
Optimism; Catastrophizing; Pain Facilitation; Temporal Summation; Osteoarthritis
To examine the influence of sex and disability on catastrophizing, pain intensity, and pain interference in individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) or multiple sclerosis (MS).
A cross-sectional survey design was employed. 248 community-dwelling adults with a physical disability (SCI=124; MS=124) and chronic pain completed measures of demographic and clinical characteristics, pain intensity and interference, psychological functioning, and pain catastrophizing.
Men reported marginally greater catastrophizing (p<.10) than women across both disability groups; however, there was no significant difference in catastrophizing between disability groups. Catastrophizing was the only significant predictor of pain intensity in the multivariate regression analysis, with greater catastrophizing associated with greater pain. Pain intensity and catastrophizing were the only significant variables in the regression analyses predicting pain interference and psychological functioning; as hypothesized, greater pain intensity and catastrophizing were associated with more pain interference and poorer psychological functioning. There was also a trend (p<.10) for females, relative to males, to have a stronger association between catastrophizing and pain interference.
These findings are consistent with a biopsychosocial conceptualization of pain and functioning in individuals with chronic pain secondary to a physical disability. In addition, these data suggest that assessment and treatment (when indicated) of catastrophizing should be a regular part of the clinical management of these patients.
Pain; Catastrophizing; Multiple Sclerosis; Spinal Cord Injury; Biopsychosocial
This study examined the contributions of chest pain, anxiety, and pain catastrophizing to disability in 97 patients with non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP). We also tested whether chest pain and anxiety were indirectly related to greater disability via pain catastrophizing.
Participants completed daily diaries measuring chest pain for seven days prior to completing measures of pain catastrophizing, trait anxiety, and disability. Linear path model analyses examined the contributions of chest pain, trait anxiety, and catastrophizing to physical disability, psychosocial disability, and disability in work, home, and recreational activities.
Path models accounted for a significant amount of the variability in disability scales (R2=.35 to .52). Chest pain and anxiety accounted for 46% of the variance in pain catastrophizing. Both chest pain (β=.18, Sobel test Z=2.58, p<.01) and trait anxiety (β=.14, Sobel test Z=2.11, p<.05) demonstrated significant indirect relationships with physical disability via pain catastrophizing. Chest pain demonstrated a significant indirect relationship with psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing (β=.12, Sobel test Z=1.96, p=.05). After controlling for the effects of chest pain and anxiety, pain catastrophizing was no longer related to disability in work, home, and recreational activities.
Chest pain and anxiety were directly related to greater disability and indirectly related to physical and psychosocial disability via pain catastrophizing. Efforts to improve functioning in NCCP patients should consider addressing pain catastrophizing.
non-cardiac chest pain; catastrophizing; anxiety; disability
Neck-shoulder pain conditions, e.g., chronic trapezius myalgia, have been associated with sensory disturbances such as increased sensitivity to experimentally induced pain. This study investigated pain sensitivity in terms of bilateral pressure pain thresholds over the trapezius and tibialis anterior muscles and pain responses after a unilateral hypertonic saline infusion into the right legs tibialis anterior muscle and related those parameters to intensity and area size of the clinical pain and to psychological factors (sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, catastrophizing and fear-avoidance).
Nineteen women with chronic non-traumatic neck-shoulder pain but without simultaneous anatomically widespread clinical pain (NSP) and 30 age-matched pain-free female control subjects (CON) participated in the study.
NSP had lower pressure pain thresholds over the trapezius and over the tibialis anterior muscles and experienced hypertonic saline-evoked pain in the tibialis anterior muscle to be significantly more intense and locally more widespread than CON. More intense symptoms of anxiety and depression together with a higher disability level were associated with increased pain responses to experimental pain induction and a larger area size of the clinical neck-shoulder pain at its worst.
These results indicate that central mechanisms e.g., central sensitization and altered descending control, are involved in chronic neck-shoulder pain since sensory hypersensitivity was found in areas distant to the site of clinical pain. Psychological status was found to interact with the perception, intensity, duration and distribution of induced pain (hypertonic saline) together with the spreading of clinical pain. The duration and intensity of pain correlated negatively with pressure pain thresholds.
Quantitative sensory testing; trapezius myalgia; muscle; pain; hypersensitivity; centralization; pressure pain thresholds; pain drawing; pain intensity; questionnaire
Pain catastrophizing is a powerful predictor of pain adaptation, and both stable and time-varying aspects may influence overall emotional well-being.
Test the independent influences of state and trait pain catastrophizing on the relationship between daily intensity and negative affect, positive affect, and depressive symptoms.
Daily diary data were collected for 30 days from a sample of 231 adults with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
State pain catastrophizing accounted for a significant proportion of the relationship between daily pain and each of the 3 examined daily outcomes. Greater trait pain catastrophizing significantly increased the effect of state pain catastrophizing on the relationship between pain intensity and the outcome variables in cross-sectional and time-lagged models.
The results of the current study indicate that state pain catastrophizing plays a prominent role in the adaptation to daily pain fluctuations, particularly for those with a propensity to catastrophize.
pain catastrophizing; emotion; depression; chronic pain
Anxiety sensitivity (AS) or fear of anxiety sensations has been linked to childhood learning history for somatic symptoms, suggesting that parental AS may impact children’s responses to pain. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), we tested a conceptual model in which parent AS predicted child AS, which in turn predicted a hypothesized latent construct consisting of children’s pain intensity ratings for three laboratory pain tasks (cold pressor, thermal heat and pressure). This conceptual model was tested in 211 non-clinical parent-child pairs (104 girls, mean age = 12.4 years; 178 mothers). Our model was supported in girls only indicating that the sex of the child moderated the hypothesized relationships. Thus, parent AS was related to child laboratory pain intensity via its contribution to child AS in girls but not in boys. In girls, 42% of the effect of parent AS on laboratory pain intensity was explained via child AS. In boys, there was no clear link between parent AS and child AS, although child AS was predictive of experimental pain intensity across sex. Our results are consistent with the notion that parent AS may operate via healthy girls’ own fear of anxiety symptoms to influence their responses to laboratory pain stimuli.
Perspective-The present study highlights sex differences in the links among parent and child anxiety sensitivity (AS; fear of anxiety sensations) and children’s experimental pain responses. Among girls, childhood learning history related to somatic symptoms may be a particularly salient factor in the development of AS and pain responsivity.
anxiety sensitivity; laboratory pain; children; adolescents; parent; sex differences
Objective We tested the hypothesis that pain threat appraisal and catastrophizing by children with functional abdominal pain (FAP) will moderate the relation between parent verbal behavior and children’s symptom complaints following experimentally induced visceral discomfort. Methods Thirty-three pediatric patients with FAP and their parents participated. Children completed measures of pain threat appraisal and catastrophizing. Weeks later they completed the Water Load Symptom Provocation Test to induce visceral discomfort. Spontaneous parent–child interactions during child discomfort were audiotaped and coded for content. Results Parent symptom-related talk was associated with more child symptom complaints and parent non-symptom-related talk with fewer child complaints. The relation between symptom talk and complaints was greater for children with high catastrophizing. Non-symptom talk was associated with fewer complaints for children with high threat appraisals. Conclusions Child characteristics should be considered in research on the relation between parent behavior and children’s symptom complaints.
chronic and recurrent pain; coping; parents
The present study examined the association between positive traits, pain catastrophizing, and pain perceptions. We hypothesized that pain catastrophizing would mediate the relationship between positive traits and pain. First, participants (n = 114) completed the Trait Hope Scale, the Life Orientation Test- Revised, and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale. Participants then completed the experimental pain stimulus, a cold pressor task, by submerging their hand in a circulating water bath (0º Celsius) for as long as tolerable. Immediately following the task, participants completed the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ-SF). Pearson correlation found associations between hope and pain catastrophizing (r = −.41, p < .01) and MPQ-SF scores (r = −.20, p < .05). Optimism was significantly associated with pain catastrophizing (r = −.44, p < .01) and MPQ-SF scores (r = −.19, p < .05). Bootstrapping, a non-parametric resampling procedure, tested for mediation and supported our hypothesis that pain catastrophizing mediated the relationship between positive traits and MPQ-SF pain report. To our knowledge, this investigation is the first to establish that the protective link between positive traits and experimental pain operates through lower pain catastrophizing.
Pain catastrophizing is conceptualized as a negative cognitive–affective response to anticipated or actual pain and has been associated with a number of important pain-related outcomes. In the present review, we first focus our efforts on the conceptualization of pain catastrophizing, highlighting its conceptual history and potential problem areas. We then focus our discussion on a number of theoretical mechanisms of action: appraisal theory, attention bias/information processing, communal coping, CNS pain processing mechanisms, psychophysiological pathways and neural pathways. We then offer evidence to suggest that pain catastrophizing represents an important process factor in pain treatment. We conclude by offering what we believe represents an integrated heuristic model for use by researchers over the next 5 years; a model we believe will advance the field most expediently.
attention bias; chronic pain; communal coping; fMRI; helplessness; pain catastrophizing; pain-related surgery; pain sensitivity; primary/secondary appraisal
This study examined the relationship of catastrophizing to fatigue in 80 women receiving chemotherapy (CT) or radiotherapy (RT) for treatment of early stage breast cancer. Findings revealed expected relationships between catastrophizing and fatigue among women receiving RT but not CT. Among RT patients, those high in catastrophizing reported significantly greater fatigue than was reported by those low in catastrophizing; among CT patients, differences in fatigue based on level of catastrophizing were not significant. Likewise, catastrophizing was found to account for significant variability in subsequent reports of fatigue among RT patients but not CT patients. These findings extend research on catastrophizing beyond previously studied relationships with pain and are consistent with the view that, as the inherent symptom-producing potential of treatment decreases, psychological factors play a greater role in patients’ experience of symptoms.
Pain-related fear and pain catastrophizing are two central psychologic factors in fear-avoidance models. Our previous studies in healthy subjects indicated that pain-related fear, but not pain catastrophizing, was associated with cold pressor pain outcomes. The current study extends previous work by investigating pain-related fear and pain catastrophizing in a group of subjects with shoulder pain, and included concurrent measures of experimental and clinical pain. Fifty nine consecutive subjects seeking operative treatment of shoulder pain were enrolled in this study (24 females, mean age = 50.4, sd = 14.9). Subjects completed validated measures of pain-related fear, pain catastrophizing, and clinical pain intensity and then underwent a cold pressor task to determine experimental pain sensitivity. Multivariate regression models used sex, age, pain-related fear, and pain catastrophizing to predict experimental pain sensitivity and clinical pain intensity. Results indicated that only pain-related fear uniquely contributed to variance in experimental pain sensitivity (beta = −.42, p < .01). In contrast, sex (beta = −.29, p = .02) and pain catastrophizing (beta = .43, p < .01) uniquely contributed to variance in clinical pain intensity. These data provide additional support for application of fear-avoidance models to subjects with shoulder pain. Our results also suggest that pain-related fear and pain catastrophizing may influence different components of the pain experience, providing preliminary support for recent theoretical conceptualizations of the role of pain catastrophizing.
Chronic pain; biopsychosocial; pain-related fear; pain catastrophizing; quantitative sensory testing; fear-avoidance model
Behavioral analgesic techniques such as distraction reduce pain in both clinical and experimental settings. Individuals differ in the magnitude of distraction-induced analgesia, and additional study is needed to identify the factors that influence the pain relieving effects of distraction. Catastrophizing, a set of negative emotional and cognitive processes, is widely recognized to be associated with increased reports of pain. We sought to evaluate the relationship between catastrophizing and distraction analgesia. Healthy participants completed three sessions in a randomized order. In one session (Pain Alone), pain was induced by topical application of a 10% capsaicin cream and simultaneous administration of a tonic heat stimulus. In another session (Pain + Distraction), identical capsaicin+heat application procedures were followed, but subjects played video games that required a high level of attention. During both sessions, verbal ratings of pain were obtained and participants rated their degree of catastrophizing. During the other session (Distraction Alone) subjects played the video games in the absence of any pain stimulus. Pain was rated significantly lower during the distraction session compared to the “pain alone” session. In addition, high catastrophizers rated pain significantly higher regardless of whether the subjects were distracted. Catastrophizing did not influence the overall degree of distraction analgesia; however, early in the session high catastrophizers had little distraction analgesia, though later in the session low and high catastrophizers rated pain similarly. These results suggest that both distraction and catastrophizing have substantial effects on experimental pain in normal subjects and these variables interact as a function of time.
Experimental pain; Behavioral analgesia; Distraction; Catastrophizing; Capsaicin
Catastrophizing is a coping style linked to poorer patient outcomes. Little attention has focused on the parent-adolescent dyad and catastrophizing as a shared coping style. The purpose of this study was to: (1) examine the effects of adolescent and parent pain catastrophizing on adolescent functioning and (2) explore concordance in catastrophizing in parent-adolescent dyads, with equal interest in outcomes of dyads with discordant coping styles.
Pain intensity, catastrophizing, depressive symptoms, quality of life, and pain behaviors were assessed in adolescents (ages 11 to 17) presenting to a pediatric chronic pain clinic (N = 240).
Significant correlations between (1) parent and adolescent catastrophizing; (2) catastrophizing and pain behaviors; and (3) catastrophizing and adolescent outcomes were found. Parents and adolescents were classified into concordant or discordant dyads based on catastrophizing with a majority of dyads (> 70%) showing concordant coping styles. Among discordant dyads, functional disability and depressive symptoms were significantly higher in a dyad with a high catastrophizing adolescent and low catastrophizing parent.
Results provide further support for catastrophizing being a maladaptive coping strategy for adolescents with pain and their parents. Greater adolescent catastrophizing was related to increased pain behaviors and poorer adolescent functioning. Parent catastrophizing also seems related to poorer adolescent outcomes, and most parent-adolescent dyads showed concordance in use of catastrophizing, which may suggest a shared tendency for adaptive or maladaptive styles of coping with pain. Future research should investigate pain coping at a dyadic or family level to explore how family coping styles magnify distress and disability or buffer adolescents from such problems.
catastrophizing; pain behaviors; discordance; pediatric chronic pain
To (1) describe a behavioral intervention designed for patients with elevated pain catastrophizing who are scheduled for knee arthroplasty, and (2) use a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the potential efficacy of the intervention on pain severity, catastrophizing cognitions, and disability.
Quasi-experimental non-equivalent control group design with a 2 month follow-up.
Two university-based Orthopedic Surgery departments.
Adults scheduled for knee replacement surgery who reported elevated levels of pain catastrophizing. Patients were recruited from two clinics and were assessed prior to surgery and 2 months following surgery.
A group of 18 patients received a psychologist directed pain coping skills training intervention comprising 8 sessions and the other group, a historical cohort of 45 patients, received usual care.
Main Outcome Measures
WOMAC Pain and Disability scores as well as scores on the Pain Catastrophizing Scale.
Two months following surgery, the patients who received pain coping skills training reported significantly greater reductions in pain severity and catastrophizing, and greater improvements in function as compared to the usual care cohort.
Pain catastrophizing is known to increase risk of poor outcome following knee arthroplasty. The findings provide preliminary evidence that the treatment may be highly efficacious for reducing pain, catastrophizing, and disability, in patients reporting elevated catastrophizing prior to knee arthroplasty. A randomized clinical trial is warranted to confirm these effects.
knee; arthroplasty; distress; pain; arthritis; catastrophizing
Psychological factors within the Fear-Avoidance Model of Musculoskeletal Pain (FAM) predict clinical and experimental pain in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Clinicians routinely examine individuals with provocative testing procedures that evoke symptoms. The purpose of this study was to investigate which FAM factors were associated with evoked pain intensity, non-painful symptom intensity, and range of motion during an upper-limb neurodynamic test. Healthy participants (n = 62) completed psychological questionnaires for pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, kinesiophobia, and anxiety prior to neurodynamic testing. Pain intensity, non-painful sensation intensity, and elbow range of motion (ROM) were collected during testing and served as dependent variables in separate simultaneous regression models. All the psychological predictors in the model accounted for 18% of the variance in evoked pain intensity (p = .02), with only pain catastrophizing (β = .442, p < .01) contributing uniquely to the model. Psychological predictors did not explain significant amounts of variance for the non-painful sensation intensity and ROM models. These findings suggest that pain catastrophizing contributed specifically to evoked pain intensity ratings during neurodynamic testing for healthy subjects. Although these findings cannot be directly translated to clinical practice, the influence of pain catastrophizing on evoked pain responses should be considered during neurodynamic testing.
neurodynamic testing; Fear-Avoidance Model of Musculoskeletal Pain; pain catastrophizing
Parental responses to children with chronic pain have been shown to influence the extent of the child’s functional disability, but these associations have not been well-studied in relation to children’s pain-related school functioning. The current study tests the hypothesis that parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain influence the extent of school impairment in children with chronic pain. A mediational model was tested to determine whether parental protective behaviors serve a mediating role between parental pain catastrophizing and child school impairment. Study participants were a clinical sample of 350 children ages 8–17 with chronic pain and their parents. Measures of pain characteristics, demographic characteristics, child depressive symptoms, school attendance rates, overall school functioning, parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to pain were collected. Results show that, controlling for the known influences of pain intensity and child depressive symptoms, parental pain catastrophizing and parental protective responses to child pain each independently predict child school attendance rates and reports of overall school impairment. Parental protectiveness was found to mediate the association between parental cognitions (i.e. parent pain catastrophizing) and child school functioning outcomes. These findings underscore the importance of intervening with parents to foster parental responses to child pain that help children engage and succeed in the school environment despite pain.
Chronic pain; Functional disability; Parents; Pediatric Pain; Psychosocial functioning; School functioning