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Epidemiology of Chronic Pain in the Latium Region, Italy: A Cross-Sectional Study on the Clinical Characteristics of Patients Attending Pain Clinics

      Abstract

      In Italy, chronic pain affects more than a quarter of the population, whereas the average European prevalence is 21%. This high prevalence might be due to the high percentage of Italian people who do not receive treatment, even after the passing of law 38/2010 (the right to access pain management in Italy), which created a regional network for the diagnosis and treatment of noncancer chronic pain. Italian epidemiologic studies on chronic pain are scanty, and this observational, multicenter, cross-sectional study is the first to investigate the clinical characteristics of patients who attended the pain management clinics in the Latium Region, Italy, for the management of their noncancer chronic pain. A total of 1,606 patients (mean age 56.8 years, standard deviation ± 11.4), 67% women, were analyzed. Severe pain was present in 54% of the sample. Women experienced pain and had it in two or more sites more often than men (57% vs. 50%, p = .02; and 55.2% vs. 45.9%, p < .001, respectively). Chronic pain was musculoskeletal (45%), mixed (34%), and neuropathic (21%). In more than 60% of the cases, chronic pain was continuous, and in 20% it had lasted for more than 48 months; long-lasting pain was often neuropathic. Low back (33.4%) and lower limbs (28.2%) were the main locations. Severe intensity of pain was statistically significantly associated with female gender (odds ratio [OR] 1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.84); with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes for chronic pain syndrome (OR 2.14; 95% CI 1.55-2.95); and with continuous pain (OR 2.02; 95% CI 1.54-2.66). Neuropathic pain and mixed pain were significantly associated with number of sites, and a trend seemed to be present (OR 2.11 and 3.02 for 2 and 3 + sites; 95% CI 1.59-2.79 and 2.00-4.55, respectively).
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