Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Br J Anaesth. 2014 Dec;113(6):1024-31. doi: 10.1093/bja/aeu255. Epub 2014 Jul 31.

Is number sense impaired in chronic pain patients?

Author information

1
Section of Anaesthetics, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK.
2
NIHR CLAHRC for NWL, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK.
3
Pain Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK.
4
Pain Research, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK Pain Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK.
5
Section of Anaesthetics, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK Pain Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH, UK c.bantel@imperial.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent advances in imaging have improved our understanding of the role of the brain in painful conditions. Discoveries of morphological changes have been made in patients with chronic pain, with little known about the functional consequences when they occur in areas associated with 'number-sense'; thus, it can be hypothesized that chronic pain impairs this sense.

METHODS:

First, an audit of the use of numbers in gold-standard pain assessment tools in patients with acute and chronic pain was undertaken. Secondly, experiments were conducted with patients with acute and chronic pain and healthy controls. Participants marked positions of numbers on lines (number marking), before naming numbers on pre-marked lines (number naming). Finally, subjects bisected lines flanked with '2' and '9'. Deviations from expected responses were determined for each experiment.

RESULTS:

Four hundred and ninety-four patients were audited; numeric scores in the 'moderate' and 'severe' pain categories were significantly higher in chronic compared with acute pain patients. In experiments (n=150), more than one-third of chronic pain patients compared with 1/10th of controls showed greater deviations from the expected in number marking and naming indicating impaired number sense. Line bisection experiments suggest prefrontal and parietal cortical dysfunction as cause of this impairment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Audit data suggest patients with chronic pain interpret numbers differently from acute pain sufferers. Support is gained by experiments indicating impaired number sense in one-third of chronic pain patients. These results cast doubts on the appropriateness of the use of visual analogue and numeric rating scales in chronic pain in clinics and research.

KEYWORDS:

acute pain; chronic pain; hemi-spatial neglect; mild cognitive impairment

PMID:
25082664
PMCID:
PMC4235572
DOI:
10.1093/bja/aeu255
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center