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Quality of Pain Counts as Much as Intensity, Researchers Say

Quality of Pain Counts as Much as Intensity, Researchers Say

08/26/10

THURSDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The quality of pain, not its intensity, should be a key assessment tool for doctors, a new study on carpal tunnel syndrome contends.

The study included 100 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome who were in a clinical trial comparing a 5 percent lidocaine patch to 500 milligrams of naproxen. The patients' sleep quality was assessed and they completed a Brief Pain Inventory questionnaire. Carpal tunnel sydrome is a swelling inside a narrow "tunnel" formed by bone and ligament in the wrist, usually as a result of repetitive motions.

The goal of the study was to examine how pain quality, not pain intensity, is associated with how pain interferes with normal function.

The University of Washington team found that specific pain qualities (sharp, sensitive, deep, surface, etc.) were associated with changes in patient functioning over and above pain intensity and other measures. Itching and throbbing were the pain qualities most strongly associated with impaired function and sleep disruption.

The findings highlights the importance of assessing pain quality when doctors are conducting pain assessments on patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.

"Pain is much more than just intensity and unpleasantness. Knowledge of pain quality, as well as pain intensity, provides additional clues for understanding the impact of pain on a person's life," study author Mark P. Jensen said in an American Pain Society news release.

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Pain.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about carpal tunnel syndrome.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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