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Rev Hosp Clin Fac Med Sao Paulo. 2001 Jan-Feb;56(1):5-10.

Pain evaluation of patients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and low back pain.

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  • 1Service of Rheumatology, Department of Physiotherapy, Speech and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare pain as reported by outpatients with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and low back pain, in view of designing more adequate physical therapy treatment.


A Portuguese version of the McGill Pain Questionnaire - where subjects are asked to choose, from lists of pre-categorized words, one or none that best describes what they feel - was used to assess pain intensity and quality of 64 patients, of which 24 had fibromyalgia, 22 had osteoarthritis, and 18 had low back pain. The pre-categorized words were organized into 4 major classes - sensory, affective, evaluative, and miscellaneous.


Patients with fibromyalgia reported, comparatively, more intense pain through their choice of pain descriptors, both sensory and affective; they also chose a higher number of words from these classes than patients in the other groups and were the only ones to choose specific affective descriptors such as "vicious", "wretched", "exhausting", "blinding".


Assuming that each disease presents unique qualities of pain experience, and that these can be pointed out by means of this questionnaire by patients' choice of specific groups of words, the findings suggest that fibromyalgia include not only a physical component, but also a psycho-emotional component, indicating that they require both emotional/affective and physical care.

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