Chronic pain is influenced by biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors. This study investigated possible roles for combinations of genetic and psychological factors in the development and/or maintenance of chronic musculoskeletal pain. An exercise-induced shoulder injury model was used, and a priori selected genetic (ADRB2, COMT, OPRM1, AVPR1 A, GCH1, and KCNS1) and psychological (anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and kinesiophobia) factors were included as predictors. Pain phenotypes were shoulder pain intensity (5-day average and peak reported on numerical rating scale), upper extremity disability (5-day average and peak reported on the QuickDASH), and shoulder pain duration (in days). After controlling for age, sex, and race, the genetic and psychological predictors were entered as main effects and interaction terms in separate regression models for the different pain phenotypes. Results from the recruited cohort (N = 190) suggested strong statistical evidence for interactions between the COMT diplotype and 1) pain catastrophizing for 5-day average upper extremity disability and 2) depressive symptoms for pain duration. There was moderate statistical evidence for interactions for other shoulder pain phenotypes between additional genes (ADRB2, AVPR1 A, and KCNS1) and depressive symptoms, pain catastrophizing, or kinesiophobia. These findings confirm the significance of the combined predictive ability of COMT with psychological distress and reveal other novel combinations of genetic and psychological factors that might warrant additional investigation in other pain cohorts.
Interactions between genetic and psychological factors were investigated as predictors of different exercise-induced shoulder pain phenotypes. The strongest statistical evidence was for interactions between the COMT diplotype and pain catastrophizing (for upper extremity disability) or depressive symptoms (for pain duration). Other novel genetic and psychological combinations were identified that might be worth additional investigation.