522: Visual trajectory pattern as prognostic factors for neck pain.

Myhrvold BL, Irgens P, Robinson HS, Engebretsen K, Natvig B, Kongsted A, Køpke Vøllestad N.
European Journal of Pain. 2020; 24(9):1752-1764 [Epub Aug 4.]


A novel approach capturing both temporal variation and pain intensity of neck pain is by visual trajectory patterns. Recently, both previous and expected visual trajectory patterns were identified as stronger predictors of outcome than traditional measures of pain history and psychological distress. Our aim was to examine patient characteristics within the various previous and expected patterns, relationship between the two patterns and predictive value of a variable combining the previous and expected patterns.

Patients with neck pain (n = 932) consulting chiropractors were included. Baseline measures included pain intensity, disability, psychological variables and symptom history and expectations. Participants reported global perceived effect after 12 weeks. Analyses included descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Pain intensity, disability, psychological and worse outcome expectations increased from a single pain episode to severe ongoing pain of previous and expected patterns. Having a severe pain history was associated with poor prognosis, particularly if combined with negative expectations. The variable combining previous and expected patterns had a discriminative ability similar to that of other predictors AUC = 0.64 (95% CI = 0.60-0-67) versus AUC = 0.66 (95% CI = 0.62-0.70). The model with highest discriminative ability was achieved when adding the combined patterns to other predictors AUC = 0.70 (95% CI = 0.66-0.73).

The study indicates that pain expectations are formed by pain history. The patients' expectations were similar to or more optimistic compared with their pain history. The prognostic ability of the model including a simplified combination of previous and expected patterns, together with a few other predictors, suggests that the trajectory patterns might have potential for clinical use.

The dynamic nature of neck pain can be captured by visual illustrations of trajectory patterns. We report, that trajectory patterns of pain history and future expectations to some extent are related. The patterns also reflect a difference in severity assessed by higher degree of symptoms and distress. Moreover, the visual trajectory patterns predict outcome at 12-weeks. Since the patterns are easily applicable, they might have potential as a clinical tool.


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