This study sought to examine pain occurrence, characteristics and correlations in an outpatient rehabilitation setting. This was an observational pilot study. The setting was an outpatient rehabilitation facility. The subjects included all patients attending physiotherapy in the week 25th to 29th September 2010 and the interventions were made using self-administered questionnaire. Ongoing pain was assessed by a yes-no question, pain intensity by a numeric rating scale (NRS) ranging 0-10. Pain-related medication was investigated, as well as pain characteristics, patient treatment expectations, life satisfaction, and catastrophism. Of the 201 patients, 12 were excluded and 189 enrolled (age 63.6±15.6; 70.4% women). Pain (mean NRS=5.6±2.4) was reported by 60.9% patients (66% orthopedic and 40% neurological). In 87.8% cases, pain was chronic (>6 months). According to patients reporting pain, the main objectives of treatment were both pain relief and functional recovery for 51%; pain relief for 24.9%; functional recovery for 22.8%. Low treatment expectations were reported by 15.3% patients; catastrophism by 40.7%; 28.6% patients were on pain medication: use of drugs was associated with age (p=0.005), pain intensity (p=0.009) and catastrophism (p=0.0003). In a multivariate analysis, pain was independently correlated with an orthopedic versus neurological diagnosis (p=0.000), and with reduced treatment expectations (p=0.020), while independent of age (p=0.74) gender (p=0.22), and catastrophism (0.17). A high prevalence of pain was observed in outpatients undergoing rehabilitation. Pain was chronic in most cases. Pain relief was the most desired treatment outcome by patients reporting pain. Pain complaint was independently correlated to orthopedic vs neurological diagnosis and to reduced treatment expectations.
Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.