Can self-reported pain characteristics and bedside test be used for the assessment of pain mechanisms? An analysis of results of neuropathic pain questionnaires and quantitative sensory testing

Pain. 2019 Sep;160(9):2093-2104. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001601.


Hyperalgesia and allodynia are frequent in neuropathic pain. Some pain questionnaires such as the Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs (LANSS) and the Neuropathic Pain Scale (NPS) include self-assessment or bedside testing of hyperalgesia/allodynia. The aim of this study was to determine to what extent LANSS and NPS data are congruent with findings on quantitative sensory testing (QST). Self-reported presence of dynamic mechanical allodynia (DMA) and descriptors of hot, cold, or deep ongoing pain (the NPS and LANSS) as well as bedside findings of mechanical allodynia (LANSS) were compared with signs of DMA and thermal hyperalgesia on QST in 617 patients with neuropathic pain. Self-reported abnormal skin sensitivity (LANSS) showed a moderate concordance with DMA during bedside test (67.9%, κ = 0.391) or QST (52.8%, κ = 0.165). Receiver operating curve analysis for self-reported DMA yielded similar area-under-the-curve values for the LANSS (0.65, confidence interval: 0.59%-0.97%) and NPS (0.71, confidence interval: 0.66%-0.75%) with high sensitivity but low specificity. Self-reported deep pain intensity was higher in patients with blunt pressure hyperalgesia, but not in patients with DMA or thermal hyperalgesia. No correlations were observed between self-reported hot or cold pain quality and thermal hyperalgesia on QST. Self-reported abnormal skin sensitivity has a high sensitivity to identify patients with DMA, but its low specificity indicates that many patients mean something other than DMA when reporting this symptom. Self-reported deep pain is related to deep-tissue hypersensitivity, but thermal qualities of ongoing pain are not related to thermal hyperalgesia. Questionnaires mostly evaluate the ongoing pain experience, whereas QST mirrors sensory functions. Therefore, both methods are complementary for pain assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis*
  • Neuralgia / psychology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / psychology
  • Pain Measurement / standards*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Pain Threshold / psychology
  • Point-of-Care Testing / standards*
  • Self Report / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Young Adult