Pain Descriptions May Predict Presence of Neuropathic Pain

December 1, 1999
Oncology NEWS International, Oncology NEWS International Vol 5 No 10, Volume 5, Issue 10

BUFFALO, NY-Just by looking at the words cancer pain patients used to describe their pain, researchers were able to correctly predict in 66% of cases which patients had neuropathic pain, Dr. Thomas Sist, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in his poster presentation at the 8th World Congress on Pain.

BUFFALO, NY-Just by looking at the words cancer pain patientsused to describe their pain, researchers were able to correctlypredict in 66% of cases which patients had neuropathic pain, Dr.Thomas Sist, of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said in hisposter presentation at the 8th World Congress on Pain.

The study involved a group of patients with cancer or chronicbenign pain seen at the Roswell Park Pain Clinic. According toan independent clinical assessment, 122 had exclusively somaticpain, 41 visceral pain, and 42 neuropathic pain. Patients withmixed pain syndromes were excluded from the study.

When these diagnoses were compared with the patients' answerson the McGill Pain Questionnaire, the researchers found that thepercentage of sensory words chosen to describe the pain was significantlyhigher for the neuropathic pain patients than for those with somaticand visceral pain.

"Patients with neuropathic pain were much more likely touse words like shooting, flashing, pricking, drilling, stabbing,sharp, and cutting-words that describe very distinct short-termphasic kinds of pain," Dr. Sist said.

Also, as would be expected, the neuropathic pain patients oftenused words suggesting a causalgic kind of pain, such as hot, burning,scalding, searing, smarting, and stinging.

"In fact, the hot, burning, scalding, searing words werethe ones that, of all the words listed, most assuredly predictedthe presence of neuropathic pain," he said.

Dr. Sist noted that the findings will be the basis for a largerstudy that will try to relate word selection more precisely toclinical findings, "the goal being to eventually providethe physician with some predictive capability when making paindiagnoses."

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