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Pain Research and Management
Volume 2016, Article ID 7657329, 11 pages
Research Article

Investigating the Burden of Chronic Pain: An Inflammatory and Metabolic Composite

1Department of Aging & Geriatric Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
2Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
3Department of Ageing and Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 0403 Oslo, Norway
4Department of Pain Management and Research, Oslo University Hospital, 0424 Oslo, Norway
5Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway
6Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Arctic University, 9038 Tromsø, Norway
7Department of Cardiology, University Hospital North Norway, 9038 Tromsø, Norway
8Department of Biostatistics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
9Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA

Received 18 August 2015; Accepted 17 February 2016

Academic Editor: Kenneth D. Craig

Copyright © 2016 Kimberly T. Sibille et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Chronic pain is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, predominated by cardiovascular disease and cancer. Investigating related risk factor measures may elucidate the biological burden of chronic pain. Objectives. We hypothesized that chronic pain severity would be positively associated with the risk factor composite. Methods. Data from 12,982 participants in the 6th Tromsø study were analyzed. Questionnaires included demographics, health behaviors, medical comorbidities, and chronic pain symptoms. The risk factor composite was comprised of body mass index, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, and triglycerides. Chronic pain severity was characterized by frequency, intensity, time/duration, and total number of pain sites. Results. Individuals with chronic pain had a greater risk factor composite than individuals without chronic pain controlling for covariates and after excluding inflammation-related health conditions (). A significant “dose-response” relationship was demonstrated with pain severity (). In individuals with chronic pain, the risk factor composite varied by health behavior, exercise, lower levels and smoking, and higher levels. Discussion. The risk factor composite was higher in individuals with chronic pain, greater with increasing pain severity, and influenced by health behaviors. Conclusions. Identification of a biological composite sensitive to pain severity and adaptive/maladaptive behaviors would have significant clinical and research utility.