Margalit D, Ben Har L, Brill S, Vatine JJ. Complex regional pain syndrome, alexithymia, and psychological distress. J Psychosom Res. 2014 Oct;77(4):273-7. Epub 2014 Jul 11. PMID: 25280824.

J Psychosom Res. 2014 Oct;77(4):273-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.07.005. Epub 2014 Jul 11.

Complex regional pain syndrome, alexithymia, and psychological distress.

Margalit D(1), Ben Har L(2), Brill S(3), Vatine JJ(4).

Author information:
(1)Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University, Israel.
(2)Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University, Israel; Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel. Electronic address: laurabenhar@gmail.com.
(3)Institute for Pain Medicine, Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel.
(4)Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel; Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to elucidate the relationships between alexithymia, psychological distress, and pain in persons with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

METHODS: Participants were 60 Israeli adults ages 19-65. This is a cross sectional study with a comparison group. Alexithymia, psychological distress, and pain were assessed in 30 individuals with CRPS in comparison to 30 gender- and age-matched persons with lower back pain (LBP). Assessments included the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and two subscales of the McGill Pain Questionnaire.

RESULTS: Persons with CRPS had significantly higher ratings of psychological distress and of alexithymia when compared to LBP controls. Pain severity was significantly associated with higher levels of alexithymia and psychological distress among persons with CRPS, but not among controls. Alexithymia and pain severity correlations were significantly different between the two groups. In persons with CRPS, the relationships between alexithymia and pain severity and between difficulty identifying feelings and pain were not confounded by psychological distress.

CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first cross sectional study providing empirical evidence on the relationship between alexithymia and CRPS. From the perspective of conceptualizing alexithymia as an outcome of CRPS, findings highlight the importance of early CRPS diagnosis and support the provision of care that addresses pain-related psychological distress and alexithymia among CRPS patients. Also, findings underscore the need to generate alternative, non-physical avenues, such as learning to identify feelings for processing pain, in order to reduce pain among persons with CRPS.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.07.005

PMID: 25280824  [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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