The latest medical research on Pain Medicine

The research magnet gathers the latest research from around the web, based on your specialty area. Below you will find a sample of some of the most recent articles from reputable medical journals about pain medicine gathered by our medical AI research bot.

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Spinal manipulation for the management of cervicogenic headache: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Eur J Pain

Spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is frequently used to manage cervicogenic headache (CGHA). No meta-analysis has investigated the effectiveness of SMT exclusively for CGHA.

Evaluate the effectiveness of SMT for CGHA. Databases and Data Treatment Five databases identified randomized controlled trials comparing SMT with other manual therapies. The PEDro scale assessed the risk-of-bias. Pain and disability data were extracted and converted to a common scale. A random effects model was used for several follow-up periods. GRADE described the quality of evidence.

Seven trials were eligible. At short-term follow-up, there was a significant, small effect favouring SMT for pain intensity (mean difference [MD] -10.88 [95% CI, -17.94, -3.82]) and small effects for pain frequency (standardized mean difference [SMD] -0.35 [95%CI, -0.66, -0.04]). There was no effect for pain duration (SMD -0.08 [95%CI, -0.47, 0.32]). There was a significant, small effect favoring SMT for disability (MD -13.31 [95% CI, -18.07, -8.56]). At intermediate follow-up, there was no significant effects for pain intensity (MD -9.77 [-24.21 to 4.68]) and a significant, small effect favoring SMT for pain frequency (SMD -0.32 [-0.63 to -0.00]). At long-term follow-up, there was no significant effects for pain intensity (MD -0.76 [-5.89 to 4.37]) and for pain frequency (SMD -0.37 [-0.84 to 0.10]).

For CGHA, SMT provides small, superior short-term benefits for pain intensity, frequency and disability but not pain duration, however, high-quality evidence in this field is lacking. The long-term impact is not significant.

Movement, posture and low back pain. How do they relate? A replicated single-case design in 12 people with persistent, disabling low back pain.

Eur J Pain

Movement and posture are commonly believed to relate to non-specific low back pain (NSLBP). While people with NSLBP appear to move and posture themselves differently from those without NSLBP, changes in movement and posture infrequently relate to improvements in NSLBP when analysed at a group-level. Additionally, little is known about how movement or posture change when clinical outcome improves.

Within-person relationships were investigated using a replicated, repeated measures, single-case design in 12 people with persistent, disabling NSLBP. Individually relevant movement and posture were captured using wearable sensors on up to 20 occasions over a 22-week period (5-week baseline, 12-week physiotherapy-led intervention, 5-week follow-up), while pain and activity limitation were collected concomitantly. A series of cross-correlation analyses estimated the presence, strength, and direction of relationships.

Many participants (n=10/12) had strong (e.g. r=0.91, p=<0.001) relationships between changes in movement or posture and changes in pain and activity limitation, while some showed no strong association. Where relationships were observed, clinical improvement predominantly (93% or 57/61 relationships) related to increased spinal movement range and velocity during forward bending and lifting, reduced lumbar muscle EMG activity at maximum voluntary flexion, and increased posterior-pelvic-tilt during sitting and standing.

Within-person changes to individually relevant movement and posture appear to often relate to clinical outcome, but not always. When changes were related, movement and posture appear to return towards being 'less protective', however causal directions remain unknown. Important activities, movements, and postural parameters varied across the participants, highlighting the potential importance of individualised management.

Systemic inflammatory markers in neck pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

Eur J Pain

Mechanisms underpinning symptoms in non-traumatic neck pain (NTNP) and whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) are not comprehensively understood. There is emerging evidence of systemic inflammation in musculoskeletal pain conditions, including neck and back pain. The aim of this systematic review was to determine if raised blood inflammatory markers are associated with neck pain.

MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL and Web of Science databases were searched. Two independent reviewers identified studies for inclusion and extracted data. Meta-analysis was performed by random-effects model to calculate standard mean differences (SMDs). Risk of bias of individual studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Overall quality of evidence from meta-analysis was assessed by Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.

In total, ten studies were included comprising 706 participants. Three studies provided data for acute WAD, two for chronic WAD, four for chronic NTNP, and one for chronic mixed WAD and NTNP. Meta-analysis indicated increased interleukin 1β (SMD: 0.84 [95% CI 0.24, 1.44], p = 0.01, I2 = 59%) and tumour necrosis factor α (SMD: 0.59 [0.09, 1.09], p = 0.02, I2 = 45%) in chronic neck pain compared to controls, but no increase in monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. Some inflammatory markers were associated with clinical variables (including pain intensity and disability). Quality of evidence was mostly low due to small samples and high heterogeneity.

Findings imply that raised blood inflammatory markers are present in chronic neck pain, which may represent an ongoing inflammatory process in this population.

The impact of income support systems on healthcare quality and functional capacity in workers with low back pain: a realist review.


Low back pain (LBP) is a leading cause of work disability. While absent from work, workers with LBP may receive income support from a system such a...

Does a screening trial for spinal cord stimulation in patients with chronic pain of neuropathic origin have clinical utility and cost-effectiveness (TRIAL-STIM)? a randomised controlled trial.


Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an established treatment of chronic neuropathic pain. Although a temporary SCS screening trial is widely used to d...

Electrical Thalamic Stimulation in the Anterior Part of the Ventral Posterolateral Nucleus for the Treatment of Patients With Central Poststroke Pain.


The effects of thalamic stimulation of the anterior part of the ventral posterolateral nucleus (VPLa) for central poststroke pain (CPSP) and the pain-related electrophysiological characteristics of this structure were investigated.

Nine patients with CPSP manifesting as hemibody pain were enrolled. Stereotactic thalamic VPLa stimulation was implemented, and intraoperative electrophysiological studies on hyperactive and unstable discharges (HUDs) and responses to sensory and electrical stimulation were performed in the sensory thalamus. A preoperative somatosensory-evoked potential (SEP) study was carried out in all nine patients and in eight other patients with localized pain.

The patients were classified into two groups: a HUD-dominant group (group H, n = 5) and a sensory response-dominant group (group R, n = 4). HUDs were frequently encountered in the thalamic VPLa in the former group. The total number of HUDs and the number along the trajectory to the VPLa in group H were significantly larger than those in group R. The improvements on the pain numeric rating scale in group H were significantly higher than those in group R two years after surgery. The amplitude ratio of the SEP N20s in the ipsilateral to the contralateral side of CVD lesion in the study group was significantly lower than in the localized pain group.

Adequate and stable pain relief with thalamic VPLa stimulation is obtainable in patients with CPSP who exhibit hyperactivity and electrical instability along the trajectory to this nucleus. Both responders and nonresponders were found to have severe dysfunction of the lemniscal system.

Depression Prevalence in Neuropathic Pain and Its Impact on the Quality of Life.

Pain Res Manag

The management of neuropathic pain remains complex, generally because of the psychiatric comorbidity that is often underdiagnosed. The objectives of our work were to determine the link between depression and the characteristics of NP on the one hand and quality of life on the other hand, in a sample of subjects consulting for neuropathic pain (NP) regardless of etiology.

We conducted a cross-sectional study involving 61 neuropathic pain consulting patients in whom we assessed five parameters, namely, neuropathic pain based on DN4, pain intensity using EVA, anxiety, and depression according to the HADS and quality of life.

The study population mean age was 52.71 ± 14.29 years while the sex ratio (m/f) was 0.52. The neuropathic pain's most common etiologies were postherpetic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and diabetic neuropathy. Depression and anxiety prevailed by 65.6% and 73.7%, respectively. The quality of life was impaired with average SF-12 physical and mental scores of 33.76 ± 8.03 and 37.78 ± 11.52, respectively. The overall mean BPI score was 5.53 ± 1.76. Patients with high DN4 scores were significantly more depressed (p=0.025). A significantly positive association was found between the depression score and the pain intensity (p=0.001, r = 0.41). Depressed subjects had a poor quality of life according to SF-12 and BPI.

Given the depressive comorbidity impact on the neuropathic pain components as well as the quality of life, screening for this comorbidity should be part of the baseline ND assessment.

Ultrasound-Guided Selective Nerve Root Block versus Fluoroscopy-Guided Interlaminar Epidural Block versus Fluoroscopy-Guided Transforaminal Epidural Block for the Treatment of Radicular Pain in the Lower Cervical Spine: A Retrospective Comparative Study.

Pain Res Manag

Recently, ultrasound- (US-) guided selective nerve root block (SNRB) has been reported to have similar effects compared to fluoroscopy- (FL-) guided cervical epidural steroid injection (CESI). There is no published study comparing the therapeutic efficacy and safety of interlaminar- (IL-) CESI and transforaminal- (TF-) CESI with US-guided SNRB. Our retrospective study aimed to compare the mid-term effects and advantages of the US-guided SNRB, FL-guided IL-CESI, and TF-CESI for radicular pain in the lower cervical spine through assessment of pain relief and functional improvement.

Patients with radicular pain in the lower cervical spine who received guided SNRB (n = 44) or FL-guided IL (n = 41) or TF-CESI (n = 37) were included in this retrospective study. All procedures were performed using a FL or US. The complication frequencies during the procedures, adverse event, treatment effects, and functional improvement were compared at 1, 3, and 6 months after the last injection.

Both the Neck Disability Index (NDI) and Verbal Numeric Scale (VNS) scores showed improvements at 1, 3, and 6 months after the last injection in all groups, with no significant differences between groups (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the treatment success rate at all time points was not significantly different between groups. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the injection method (US- or FL-guided), cause, sex, age, number of injections, and pain duration were not independent predictors of treatment success. Blood was aspirated before injection in 7% (n = 3), 14% (n = 6), and 0% patients in the FL-guided IL, TF, and US-guided groups, respectively. In 2 patients of FL-guided IL and 7 of FL-guided TF group, intravascular contrast spread was noted during injection.

Our results suggest that, compared with FL-guided IL and TF-CESI, US-guided SNRB has a low intravascular injection rate; it is unlikely that serious complications will occur. Also, US-guided SNRB requires a shorter administration duration while providing similar pain relief and functional improvements. Therefore, for the treatment of patients with lower cervical radicular pain, US-guided SNRB should be considered as a prior epidural steroid injection.

Parental (non-)pain attending verbalizations moderate the relationship between child attention and memory bias for pain.

Eur J Pain

Children's negatively biased pain-related memories (i.e., recalling pain as being more intense or fearful than initially reported) have been recognized as a key factor in explaining child pain development. While mechanisms underlying children's pain memory development remain poorly understood, attention biases and parent language have been implicated in conceptual models. The current study examined the association between child pain-related attention and memory biases and the moderating role of parental pain and non-pain attending verbalizations.

Participants were 51 school children and one of their parents. Probability of initial fixation and gaze duration to pain were assessed using eye tracking methodology. Children performed a cold pressor task (CPT) and reported on experienced pain intensity and pain-related fear. A 3-minute parent-child interaction upon CPT completion allowed measurement of parental pain and non-pain attending verbalizations. Children's pain-related memories were elicited two weeks later.

Findings indicated that the relationship between maintained attention to pain and fear memory bias was moderated by parental non-pain attending verbalizations such that higher gaze duration bias was positively associated with fear memory bias but only among children whose parents demonstrated low levels of non-pain attending verbalizations. The opposite pattern was observed for children whose parents showed high levels of non-pain attending verbalizations. No such effects were observed for child initial attention bias to pain, memory bias for pain and parental pain attending verbalizations.

Findings highlight the importance of parental and child pain-related variables as well as their interaction in understanding negatively biased pain-related memories.

Improvement of Pain and Function After Use of a Topical Pain Relieving Patch: Results of the RELIEF Study.

Journal of Pain

Pain is the most common reason for patients to consult primary care providers. Identification of effective treatments with minimal adverse events is critical to safer opioid-sparing and multi-modal approaches to pain treatment. Topical analgesic patches target medication to peripheral sites of pain while potentially avoiding adverse effects associated with systemic medications. Opioids, prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and over-the-counter oral medications are associated with systemic toxicities, increasing morbidity and mortality. This study evaluated a topical analgesic pain-relieving patch in reducing pain severity and improving function in patients with mild to moderate arthritic, neurological, or musculoskeletal pain.

This Institutional Review Board-approved study evaluated the effectiveness of a topical pain-relieving patch in reducing Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) scores in patients. The treatment group (TG) (n=152) received patches for 14 days. A control group (CG) (n=47) did not receive the patch. After day 14, 34 CG patients crossed over to treatment (CROSSG) with the patch. Surveys were administered to patients at baseline and 14 days to assess changes in pain severity and interference. Changes in oral pain medication use, side effects, and satisfaction use were also assessed.

Paired data were collected in the CG, TG and CROSSG. At day 14, TG pain severity score and pain interference score decreased (49% and 58.1%, respectively). Pain severity and interference scores decreased less in the CG (12.3% and 14.8%, respectively). In the study, 60.5% of the TG were using concomitant oral pain medications "a lot less", and 90.8% were very/extremely satisfied with the patch. CROSSG patients showed similar reductions in pain severity and interference scores after patch treatment. No side effects of treatment were reported.

Results indicate that this topical analgesic pain-relieving patch can reduce BPI pain severity and interference scores in adult patients with mild to moderate arthritic, neurological, and musculoskeletal pain and should be considered as a treatment option.

Ultrasound-Guided Corticosteroid Injection in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Comparison Between Radial and Ulnar Approaches.

Journal of Pain

To compare two common approaches for ultrasonography (US)-guided injection.

Sixty patients with mild-to-moderate CTS were included in this double-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT). They received a single shot of corticosteroid injection through either the US-guided in-plane approach: radial or ulnar side. Participants were evaluated using Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) and visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain, as well as electrodiagnosis (EDX) and US parameters before the intervention, and within 12 weeks of follow-up.

In both groups, all outcomes, except for the electrodiagnostic measures, significantly improved within the follow-up. Pain-VAS and both subscales of BCTQ questionnaire, as our main subjective outcomes, revealed dramatic improvement, with the largest amount of changes in VAS (70%; comparing to baseline value), and about 37% for both of BQSS and BQFS scales, all indicating superiority of radial to ulnar in-plane approach. During the first follow-up, we did not detect any remarkable preference between the groups in either subjective or electrodiagnostic variables. However, there was a significant difference at next follow-up time-points in terms of VAS for pain and BQFS favoring radial approach (Table 3). Furthermore, US-measured parameters including nerve-circumference and CSA improved only in the radial in-plane group.

The current data proved that radial in-plane approach for CTS injection could be at least as effective as the more common ulnar in-plane method. Even the pain-relief effect was longer for the radial in-plane approach. Also, patients' functional status and objective variables all revealed better outcomes via the new approach.

Chronic Pain, Mood Disorders and Substance Use: Outcomes of Interdisciplinary Care in a Residential Psychiatric Hospital.

Journal of Pain

The objective is to report outcomes of an interdisciplinary group-based residential chronic pain recovery program (CPRC), located in a private non-profit psychiatric hospital. The chronic pain program was aimed at treatment and engagement in self-care of both pain and co-occurring disorders in a residential facility that also offered treatment for specific psychiatric disorders.

A retrospective chart review was conducted that included a convenience sample of 131 patients admitted from March 2012 through August 2017 who completed treatment. An interdisciplinary team of professionals provided psycho-behavioral therapy, movement therapies and medication management. Patients completed a battery of psycho-social and demographic questionnaires on admission and before discharge of the program.

Significant differences were noted in pain severity, pain interference, depression and anxiety (p<.01) between admission and discharge, and the Chronic Pain Coping Inventory demonstrated significant differences in guarding (p <.001), asking (p =.018), exercise (p <.001), relaxation (p <.001), and pacing (p=.024). Of patients using opioids on admission, at discharge, 37% had tapered and remained off all opioids, 43% were using buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, and 20% continued on analgesic opioids.

Treatment was associated with reductions in pain severity and interference, in anxiety and in depression as well as improvements in pain coping. Additionally, there was a reduction in reliance on opioids for pain relief.