Background: Up to 40% of ankylosing spondylitis patients report persistently high pain scores of >4 (scale of 0-10) even after responding to long-term TNF-alpha blocking therapy. In other rheumatic diseases, nociplastic pain (due to altered functioning of the nervous system leading to peripheral and central sensitization) is common. In axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), patient illness and pain perceptions were shown to influence disease outcome. Therefore, we hypothesized that central sensitization and patients’ illness perceptions are associated with persistently high disease activity in axSpA.
Objectives: To investigate to what extent central sensitization, pain catastrophizing and patients’ perceptions play a role in axSpA and to explore associations with disease activity.
Methods: Between April and September 2019, consecutive outpatients from the Groningen Leeuwarden axSpA (GLAS) cohort, an ongoing large prospective cohort, were included in this study. Besides the standardized assessments, patients filled out three additional questionnaires: Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI), Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) and Revised Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ-R). Univariable and multivariable linear regression analyses were used to investigate the association of CSI, PCS and each of the eight subscales of the IPQ-R, and disease activity assessments ASDAS-CRP, BASDAI, and CRP. We corrected for the following potential confounders: gender, symptom duration, BMI, educational level, smoking status and HLA-B27 status.
Results: Of 171 included patients, 58% were male, 79% were HLA-B27 positive, median symptom duration was 21 (IQR 10-32), mean ASDAS-CRP 2.1 ± 1.0, mean BASDAI 3.9 ± 2.2 and median CRP 2.9 (IQR 1.2-6.3). Mean CSI score was 37.8 ± 14.1 (scale of 0-100), and 44% of patients scored ≥40 on the CSI. Median PCS score was 15 (IQR 7-22) (scale of 0-52), median IPQ-R illness identity subscore 3 (IQR 2-4) (scale of 0-14) and mean IPQ-R treatment control subscore 18.1 ± 3.4 (scale of 5-25). In univariable regression analysis, CSI and PCS scores and IPQ-R subscores all showed significant associations with ASDAS-CRP, and all except the IPQ-R subscale personal control showed significant associations with BASDAI. Only IPQ-R treatment control was significantly associated with CRP. Central sensitization, two IPQ-R subscales (perceived treatment control and the number of symptoms patients attributed to their axSpA: illness identity) and BMI were independently associated with disease activity assessments BASDAI (R2=0.46) and ASDAS-CRP (R2=0.36) (Figure 1).
Conclusion: In this axSpA population with long-term disease, 44% scored above the CSI cutoff point of 40, indicating a high probability of central sensitization. CSI score, illness identity and treatment control were independently associated with disease activity assessments.
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Disclosure of Interests: Stan Kieskamp: None declared, Davy Paap: None declared, Marlies Carbo: None declared, Freke Wink Consultant of: Abbvie, Janssen, Reinhard Bos: None declared, Hendrika Bootsma Grant/research support from: Unrestricted grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche, Consultant of: Consultant for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Novartis, Medimmune, Union Chimique Belge, Speakers bureau: Speaker for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis., Suzanne Arends Grant/research support from: Grant/research support from Pfizer, Anneke Spoorenberg: None declared
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