Identifying patients with chronic widespread pain in primary care.

Mansfield, K.E. ; Sim, J. ; Croft, P. ; Jordan, K.P. ;
Identifying patients with chronic widespread pain in primary care.
Pain, 2016;

Chronic widespread pain (CWP) is common in the general population. It is unclear how people reporting this problem present in primary care; they may regularly consult for regional pains without being recognized as having a generalized condition. Our objectives were to determine the prevalence of people consulting in primary care for musculoskeletal conditions in different body regions on different occasions (recurrent regional pain consultation), the proportion with diagnosed generalized pain and survey-reported widespread pain, and if they have features characteristic of CWP. Phase 1 used electronic records from 12 general practices in North Staffordshire (Consultations in Primary Care Archive) from 2005 to 2009. Phase 2 used linked self-reported health and primary healthcare data from 8,286 people aged 50 plus in eight general practices (North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project) between 2002 and 2005. In Phase 1, 11% of registered patients fulfilled criteria for recurrent regional pain consultation. Three-quarters had no recorded CWP-related generalized pain condition (e.g. fibromyalgia). In Phase 2, 53% of recurrent regional pain consulters had survey-reported widespread pain and 88% had consulted for somatic symptoms. Self-reported general health was worse in recurrent regional pain consulters than in single-region consulters, and poorest in those who also reported persistent widespread pain. Recurrent regional pain consulters are a heterogeneous group of frequent consulters sharing features with CWP (e.g. somatic symptoms) but including those less severely affected. They lie on the spectrum of polysymptomatic distress characteristic of CWP and represent a group whose needs may be better met by earlier diagnosis of multi-site pain.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.