Generalized sensory sensitivity is associated with comorbid pain symptoms: a replication study in women with dysmenorrhea.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Dysmenorrhea is characterized by high rates of transition to chronic pain. In a previous study using structural equation modeling, we demonstrated that several symptom domains associated with the emerging concept of nociplastic pain can be described using 2 symptom groups: generalized sensory sensitivity (GSS; composed of widespread pain, interceptive sensitivity, and environmental sensitivity) and SPACE (composed of unrefreshing sleep, pain, affective disturbances, cognitive issues, and reduced energy). Here, we perform a secondary cross-sectional analysis examining the same symptoms groups in a cohort of patients with dysmenorrhea without a diagnosis of chronic pain. Our purpose is to determine if the same symptom patterns are apparent and if they are associated with the presence and severity of comorbid pain. Participants were 201 women with dysmenorrhea. We replicated the hypothesized 2-factor structure in this cohort (comparative fit index = 0.971 and root mean square error of approximation =0.055; 90% CI: 0.000-0.097). Generalized sensory sensitivity was associated with the severity of bladder, bowel, and overall pain in multivariable models including SPACE, patient age, and BMI (all β > 0.32, all P < 0.05). Sleep, pain, affective disturbances, cognitive issues, and reduced energy were associated with menstrual pain during nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, whereas GSS was associated with the same in the absence of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use (both P < 0.05). This 2-factor model of symptoms seems to be replicable and valid in a cohort of women at risk for developing chronic pain conditions. These symptom groups are promising potential markers of future pain chronification and may point to patients in need of earlier or more aggressive intervention.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schrepf, A; Hellman, KM; Bohnert, AM; Williams, DA; Tu, FF

Published Date

  • January 2023

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 164 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 142 - 148

PubMed ID

  • 35543649

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9704354

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-6623

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-3959

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002676


  • eng