Pain Affect in MS Associated with Physical and Psychiatric Comorbidities

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by Diogo Pinto |

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Physical and psychiatric comorbidities in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are associated with an increased risk of experiencing more pain — namely pain intensity and pain affect.

The research to support that finding, “Psychiatric and physical comorbidities and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis,” was published in the Journal of Pain Research.

A recent report demonstrated a higher prevalence of comorbidities — one or more disease or disorder co-occurring with a primary disease — in MS patients.

Comorbidities associated with MS are divided into psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and physical disorders, like chronic lung disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels in the blood), heart diseases and diabetes.

Recent studies also reported that the prevalence of physical comorbidities can contribute to MS progression.

In order to investigate the possible correlation between comorbidities and pain in MS, Dutch researchers assessed whether physical and psychiatric comorbidities could predict pain intensity and pain affect in MS patients susceptible to cognitive impairment.

The study included 94 MS patients and 80 healthy individuals and a list of 49 comorbidities, including depression and anxiety, extracted from patients’ medical records.

The findings indicate a higher incidence of depression and anxiety in MS patients susceptible to cognitive impairment, compared to healthy individuals. The results suggest that psychiatric comorbidities can be correlated with both pain intensity and pain affect.

In contrast, total physical comorbidities can predict only pain affect, and not pain intensity.

Researchers also found that MS patients used significantly more pain medication, compared to the healthy study participants.

“Psychiatric and physical comorbidities and pain affect may enhance MS patients’ suffering. Assessment of the various aspects of pain is complex, particularly in MS patients, susceptible to cognitive impairment. Our findings might therefore be of relevance for the clinician, to optimize pain assessment and treatment,” the team concluded.


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