Identifying subgroups with different clinical profiles may inform tailored management and improve outcomes. The objective of this study was to identify psychosocial and psychophysical profiles of children and adolescents with chronic back pain.
One hundred and ninety-eight patients with chronic back pain were recruited for the study. Pain assessment was mainly conducted in the form of an interview and with the use of validated pain-related questionnaires assessing their psychosocial factors and disability. All patients underwent mechanical and thermal quantitative sensory tests assessing detection and pain thresholds, and conditioned pain modulation efficacy.
Hierarchal clustering partitioned our patients into three clusters accounting for 34.73% of the total variation of the data. The adaptive cluster represented 45.5% of the patients and was characterized to display high thermal and pressure pain thresholds. The high somatic symptoms cluster, representing 19.2% of patients, was characterized to use more sensory, affective, evaluative and temporal descriptors of pain, more likely to report their pain as neuropathic of nature, report more functional disability, report symptoms of anxiety and depression, and report poor sleep quality. The pain-sensitive cluster, representing 35.4% of the cohort, displayed deep tissue sensitivity and thermal hyperalgesia.
This study identified clinical profiles of children and adolescents experiencing chronic back pain based on specific psychophysical and psychosocial characteristics highlighting that chronic pain treatment should address underlying nociceptive and non-nociceptive mechanisms.

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