Grading the intensity of nondental orofacial pain: identification of cutoff points for mild, moderate, and severe pain

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SCIENCE
Grading the intensity of nondental orofacial pain: identification of cutoff points for mild, moderate, and severe pain
Key Take-Away: 

The nonlinear relationship between pain intensity and functional impairment has been deduced in this study. Also, the impact of chronic pain on daily activities depend on the pain intensity and the nature of the condition. Cutoff points can be used in almost all nondental chronic orofacial pain conditions as in the individual conditions as well.

When assessing pain in clinical practice, clinicians often label pain as mild, moderate, and severe. However, these categories are not distinctly defined, and are often used arbitrarily.

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

When assessing pain in clinical practice, clinicians often label pain as mild, moderate, and severe. However, these categories are not distinctly defined, and are often used arbitrarily.

Instruments for pain assessment use more sophisticated scales, such as a 0–10 numerical rating scale, and apart from pain intensity assess pain-related interference and disability. The aim of the study was to identify cutoff points for mild, moderate, and severe nondental orofacial pain using a numerical rating scale, a pain-related interference scale, and a disability measurement.

Methods: 

A total of 245 patients referred to the Facial Pain Unit in London were included in the study. Intensity and pain-related interference were assessed by the Brief Pain Inventory.

Pain-related disability was assessed by the Chronic Graded Pain Scale. Average pain intensity (0–10) was classified into nine schemes with varying cutoff points of mild, moderate, and severe pain. The scheme with the most significant intergroup difference, expressed by multivariate analysis of variance, provided the cutoffs between mild, moderate, and severe pain.

Results: 

The combination that showed the greatest intergroup differences for all patients was scheme 47 (mild 1–4, moderate 5–7, severe 8–10).

The same combination provided the greatest intergroup differences in subgroups of patients with temporomandibular disorder and chronic idiopathic facial pain, respectively. Among the trigeminal neuralgia patients alone, the combination with the highest intergroup differences was scheme 48 (mild 1–4, moderate 5–8, severe 9–10).

Conclusion: 

The cutoff points established in this study can discriminate in pain intensity categories reasonably well, and showed a significant difference in most of the outcome measures used.

J Pain Res. 2015; 8: 95–104
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