Longitudinal patterns of pain distribution in axSpA patients: a retrospective cohort study

Revathi Nishtala, Rosie Barnett, Teyuan Chyou, Anushka Soni, Raj Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Chronic pain is an important and debilitating symptom experienced by patients with axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA). The patterns of pain and their associations in this patient group is poorly understood. The overall aim of the study is to investigate patterns of pain distribution in patients with axSpA using Margolis Pain Diagrams, and any associations with clinical and demographic measures.

We analysed data collected from individuals attending the axSpA outpatient clinic at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. All participants were asked to record their pain on a pre-printed Margolis Pain diagram at each clinical visit. The number and distribution of painful areas were assessed and then categorised into regional or widespread pain, using pre-defined anatomical criteria. Descriptive analyses and any associations between pain distribution and demographic and clinical variables were assessed. Changes in pain distribution over time, using data from up to four clinic visits, were further investigated using a Sankey diagram.

Of the 187 participants who had a baseline pain assessment, their mean age at diagnosis was 31.6 (11.9) years and 31.6% were female. 89.3% of patients reported pain at baseline, and of these 21.4%, 29.4 % and 38.5% reported pain in 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6 regions respectively. The most common sites of pain are in the Trunk (68.4%), followed by Head and Cervical (65.8%) and Left lower limb regions (58.8%). Univariate analyses did not reveal any significant associations between the presence of widespread pain and age at diagnosis, sex, smoking or HLA-B27 status. Disease activity, measured using Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, was significantly higher in participants with widespread pain compared to those with regional pain OR 1.60 (1.30-1.96), and a trend towards higher sleep disturbance, was demonstrated OR 1.05 (1.00-1.10). Longitudinal analyses demonstrated considerable flux over time in the number and distribution of pain reported.

The Margolis Pain diagram is a practical instrument for assessing pain in axSpA patients. Several pain patterns were noted in patients with axSpA, and future research should focus on the potential impact on quality of life measures, response to treatment, and radiological findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP269
Number of pages1
Issue numberSupplement_2
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


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