Pressure Pain Phenotypes in Women Before Breast Cancer Treatment

Grace A. Kanzawa-Lee

Steven E. Harte

Celia M. Bridges

Chad Brummett

Daniel J. Clauw

David A. Williams

Robert Knoerl

Ellen M. Lavoie Smith

pain, pressure pain sensitivity, breast, cancer, quantitative sensory testing
ONF 2018, 45(4), 483-495. DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.483-495

Objectives: To explore associations between quantitative sensory testing (QST) and pretreatment pain, physical, and psychological characteristics in women with breast cancer.

Sample & Setting: 41 women with treatment-naive stage 0–III breast cancer at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.

Methods & Variables: Participants completed self-report surveys and QST within the month before breast surgery. Pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were measured bilaterally at each trapezius with a manual QST algometer. PPT values were split, yielding low, moderate, and high pain sensitivity subgroups. Subgroup self-reported characteristics were compared using Spearman’s correlation, chi-square, and one-way analysis of variance.

Results: Lower PPT (higher sensitivity) was associated with higher levels of pain interference and maladaptive pain cognitions. The high-sensitivity group reported higher pain severities, interference, and catastrophizing and lower belief in internal locus of pain control than the low-sensitivity group.

Implications for Nursing: Individualized interventions for maladaptive pain cognitions before surgery may reduce pain sensitivity and the severity of chronic pain developed after surgery.

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