Pain pattern description using pain frequency maps: a study in chronic neck pain and chronic low back patients

Leoni, Diego and Monesi , Federica and Gatti, Roberto and Egloff, Michele and Barbero, Marco (2014) Pain pattern description using pain frequency maps: a study in chronic neck pain and chronic low back patients. In: 4° Congresso nazionale SIF, 24-25 May 2014, Firenze, Italy.

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Abstract

Background: The current availability of user friendly digital devices for the direct acquisition of digital pain drawings (PD) and the use of softwares for automated PD’s analysis, allow easier and more accurate estimation of the extent and the location of pain. These data can be used to generate pain frequency maps (PFM), graphical representations of pain patterns. The aim of this study was to present the use of PFM to investigate and describe the pain patterns in chronic neck pain (CNP) and chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients. Methods: eighty-four CNP (61 women, 23 men) and eigthy-eight CLBP (47 women, 41 men) patients participated. Each patient shaded a digital PD using a stylus pen on an iPad®. All PD belonging to the same group were simultaneously superimposed and PFM generated with a customised software. Two different colour scales were used to visualize each PFM (Fig 1). Each colour/tonality represents the percentage of patients who shaded that area on PD. The corresponding number of patients is also reported for each percentage. Results: 2-17% of CNP and CLBP patients reported pain in the limbs, CNP patients in the low back and CLBP ones in the neck. 23% of female CNP patients reported pain in the infra-scapular region, compared to the 4% of male. The most frequently reported pain area in CNP patients corresponded to the bilateral upper trapezius for the female (56-62%), and to the median part of the middle-cervical spine for the male (57-61%). The most frequently reported pain area in CLBP patients was the median part of the lower lumbar spine for the female (53-57%), and the medio-lateral part of the middle lumbar spine for the male (54-59%). Discussion: The use of PFM was tested in CNP and CLBP patients, and pain pattern described. Female and male PFM were generated separately and visualized with two different color scales. Differences and similarities concerning frequency of reporting pain with PD have been pointed out between and within the groups. Conclusions: PFM generation through the automated analysis of pain extent and pain location seems to be a promising approach for pain patterns’ investigation.

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