Similarity of suffering: Equivalence of psychological and psychosocial factors in neuropathic and non-neuropathic orofacial pain patients

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The degree to which neuropathic and non-neuropathic pain conditions differ in psychological and psychosocial status remains largely unexplored. A better understanding of these aspects would be of considerable benefit in helping to define whether similar psychological treatment strategies (eg, cognitive-behavioural therapy) can be adopted in the management of neuropathic pain as in non-neuropathic pain conditions. Chronic orofacial pain disorders present a unique opportunity to compare nociceptive and neuropathic pain in the same body region. Twenty-four patients with trigeminal neuropathic pain, 21 patients with temporomandibular disorder, and 38 healthy controls were assessed with a psychological/psychosocial battery encompassing the 4 dimensions of the pain experience; sensory-discriminative, affective-motivational, cognitive-evaluative, and psychosocial. Although patients with trigeminal neuropathic pain (neuropathic pain) and temporomandibular disorder (non-neuropathic pain) described the sensory aspects of their pain differently, they exhibited comparable negative affective-motivational, cognitive-evaluative, and psychosocial states, although these were significantly different compared to healthy controls. These findings support growing evidence that the negative affective, cognitive, and psychosocial state of chronic pain is universal, regardless of a neuropathic or nociceptive nature. Further characterisation of these 4 dimensions of the pain experience in different chronic pain subtypes may improve the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy.Nociceptive/inflammatory and neuropathic chronic orofacial pain populations report similar affective-motivational, cognitive-evaluative, and psychosocial dimensions of their pain experience but exhibit different sensory-discriminative components.

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