For chronic pain treatment, guidelines and regulatory agencies have defined functional improvement as a primary goal, particularly when chronic opioid therapy is used. Functional improvement is often evaluated by qualitative questioning. This pilot study aimed to establish a simple and inexpensive measure of functional change for a chronic pain population. The average distance walked at center admission was 272.87 yards. At 3-6 month clinical retesting, the distance had improved significantly to 339.04 yards (p<0.0001). NRS scores at 3-6 months were also improved from baseline (p<0.001).
While suggestive, this study has significant limitations. Not all patients entering into the clinic were included in this study, only those who had completed the necessary testing. Further, chart reviews are complicated by the accuracy with which data is recorded. This study is intriguing and presents positive data for a simple, inexpensive and reproducible test for physical functioning in a chronic pain population. Additional study is justified based on these descriptive results.