Research Article| Volume 21, ISSUE 1-2, P108-120, January 2020

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Examining the Adjustment Patterns of Adults With Multiple Chronic Pain Conditions and Multiple Pain Sites: More Pain, No Gain


      • Multiple pain conditions and sites are very common among people with chronic pain.
      • Some demographic factors are related to the number of pain conditions and sites.
      • The number of pain conditions and sites are associated with pain adjustment profiles.
      • Greater number of pain conditions predicted a higher level of emotional distress.


      The present study examined how multiple chronic pain conditions and pain sites are associated with sociodemographics, chronic pain adjustment profiles, and emotional distress. A total of 2,407 individuals who reported at least 6 months of having consistent pain severity, pain interference, and/or emotional burden due to pain were recruited through random digit dialing across the United States. Participants’ chronic pain adjustment profiles (ie, pain intensity, pain interference, emotional burden, pain catastrophizing, pain coping, pain attitudes, and social resources) were assessed. Anxiety and depressive symptoms were also measured using a subsample of 181 participants who provided 3-month follow-up data. More than 60% of individuals with chronic pain reported having multiple pain conditions. Middle-aged single women with fibromyalgia, disability and of low socioeconomic status reported a greater number of pain conditions and pain sites. Structural equation modeling revealed that a higher number of pain conditions and sites were associated with more dysfunctional chronic pain adjustment profiles. The subsample analyses showed that reporting a greater number of pain conditions predicted a higher level of depression and anxiety 3 months later, controlling for pain-related anxiety and depressive symptoms, pain severity and interference at baseline. Having multiple pain conditions and sites may represent a psychosocial barrier to successful adjustment to chronic pain.


      This article argues for the importance of assessing the number of co-occurring chronic pain conditions and bodily areas that are affected by pain in both pain research and clinical settings. Measuring and incorporating such information could potentially enhance our nascent understanding of the adjustment processes of chronic pain.

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