Association between pain phenotype and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a non-interventional, longitudinal cohort study

P. M. ten Klooster, N. de Graaf, H. E. Vonkeman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND In well-controlled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) without significant joint damage, a substantial proportion of patients complain of persistent pain. Previous studies have identified different pain phenotypes in RA, in which non-nociceptive pain phenotypes are associated with higher concurrent disease activity scores. In this longitudinal study, we explored associations between pain phenotypes and long-term disease activity outcome in RA patients. Secondly, we explored whether pain phenotype is associated with comorbid conditions. METHODS One hundred eighty established RA patients were classified with a nociceptive (61%) or a non-nociceptive (39%) pain phenotype, based on their responses to the painDETECT-questionnaire. Two years of clinical follow-up data on disease activity outcomes were collected. Information on comorbid diseases was derived from electronic patient files. RESULTS Patients with a non-nociceptive pain phenotype showed higher mean disease activity scores (DAS28, 2.57; 95% CI, 2.37-2.77 vs. 2.11; 95% CI, 1.94-2.27; p textless 0.001) and a twofold lower chance of achieving sustained DAS28 remission (OR = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.26-0.92; p = 0.020). Only the tender joint count and patient global health significantly differed between the pain phenotype groups. Patients with a non-nociceptive pain phenotype had more often been diagnosed with concurrent fibromyalgia (9.9% vs. 0.9%; p = 0.007) and other pain-associated comorbid diseases (52.1% vs. 35.8%; p = 0.030) compared with patients with a nociceptive pain phenotype. CONCLUSION This longitudinal study showed consistently worse long-term disease activity outcomes in RA patients with a non-nociceptive pain phenotype which appeared to be mainly due to differences in the subjective components of the disease activity score. TRIAL REGISTRATION The DREAM cohort study is registered in the Netherlands Trial Register: NTR578.
Original languageEnglish
Article number257
JournalArthritis research & therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2019


  • Fibromyalgia
  • Outcome measures
  • Pain assessment and management
  • Patient attitude to health
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


Dive into the research topics of 'Association between pain phenotype and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a non-interventional, longitudinal cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this