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30-05-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Article

The course of pain hypersensitivity according to painDETECT in patients with rheumatoid arthritis initiating treatment: results from the prospective FRAME-cohort study

Arthritis Research & Therapy

Authors: Signe Rifbjerg-Madsen, Anton Wulf Christensen, Mikael Boesen, Robin Christensen, Bente Danneskiold-Samsøe, Henning Bliddal, Lene Dreyer, Henning Locht, Kirstine Amris

Publisher: BioMed Central



Evidence is emerging that pain in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) exists without underlying inflammation. Our objective was to evaluate the prognostic value of pain classification at treatment initiation using the painDETECT questionnaire (PDQ). Outcomes were change in DAS28-CRP and RAMRIS synovitis score.


RA patients initiating a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) or initiating/ switching a biological agent were included. Follow-up time was 4 months. Clinical examination, imaging (MRI, dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI)), and patient-reported outcomes were undertaken. The PDQ was used to differentiate pain mechanisms. Mean change (95% CI) was calculated using ANCOVA. Multivariable regression models were used to determine a prognostic value.


A total of 102 patients were included; 75 were enrolled for MRI. Mean changes in baseline variables were greatest in the high PDQ classification group (> 18), while limited in the intermediate group (13–18). The 12 patients with high baseline PDQ score all changed pain classification group. No prognostic value of PDQ pain classification was found in relation to change of DAS28-CRP, RAMRIS score, or VAS pain. In the unadjusted model, RAMRIS score at baseline was associated with change in DAS28-CRP. The exploratory variables of DCE-MRI did not differ from other inflammatory variables.


In RA patients a high PDQ score (non-nociceptive pain) at baseline was not associated with worse outcomes, in fact these patients had numerically greater improvement in DAS28-CRP. However, pain classification by PDQ was not independently associated with change in DAS28-CRP, RAMRIS score, or VAS pain in the prognostic models.
Furthermore, patients classified with a high baseline PDQ score changed pain classification group. Patients with unclear pain mechanism had reduced numerically treatment response.

Trial registration

The study was approved by the Regional Ethics Committee of the Capital of Denmark April 18 2013; identification number H-3-2013-049.

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