Neuropathic-like pain features and cross-sectional associations in rheumatoid arthritis

Sanne M.W. Koop, Peter M. ten Klooster, Harald E. Vonkeman, Laura M.M. Steunebrink, Mart A.F.J. van de Laar

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Introduction: Increasing evidence indicates that features suggestive of neuropathic pain may also be present in patients with common rheumatic conditions. The objective of this study was to examine neuropathic-like pain symptoms and associated factors in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Methods: We used the painDETECT screening tool to identify possible or likely neuropathic pain in 159 outpatients with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients additionally completed other self-reported measures, while clinical measures were assessed to calculate the 28-joint Disease Activity Score. Univariate analyses and multivariable logistic regression were used to identify factors associated with neuropathic pain features.

Results: According to the painDETECT, 27 patients (17.0 %) were classified as having likely neuropathic pain and 34 patients (21.4 %) as having possible neuropathic pain. Besides reporting more severe pain, patients with likely or possible neuropathic pain were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, to use analgesics, and to have more tender joints and a worse physical and mental health status as measured by the 36-item Short-Form health survey. In multivariable analysis, physical (P < 0.001) and mental health status (P = 0.006) remained significantly associated with neuropathic pain features, even after controlling for pain severity.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that a sizeable proportion of patients with relatively well-controlled rheumatoid arthritis report symptoms suggestive of neuropathic pain. Neuropathic-like pain symptoms are independently associated with worse self-reported physical and mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number237
Number of pages8
JournalArthritis research & therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • IR-96955
  • METIS-311414
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis patient
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Physical component summary
  • Central sensitization


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