Diagnosing Pain May Exclude Some Patients

August 18, 2010

Findings presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting, show that patients whose pain cannot be localized or pointed out on a scan or test often times are challenged with the task of defending the legitimacy of their condition.

Findings presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, show that patients whose pain cannot be localized or pointed out on a scan or test often times are challenged with the task of defending the legitimacy of their condition.

The research was performed by Elizabeth Sweeney, a University of Cincinnati doctoral candidate, and was highlighted in the paper, “Defining Reality: How Biomedical Researchers Determine the Existence of Pain.”

Sweeney studied over 20 articles written in the journal PAIN and examined how pain is measured and defined in terms of types of pain, location of pain, its causes, severity, duration, response to treatment, methods of detection, and symptoms. The evidence based diagnostic tests can exclude pain sufferers with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Gulf War syndrome.

“It is apparent from this research that the missing link in much of biomedical research is any viable attempt to understand the subjective experience of pain,” Sweeney wrote.

“A diagnosis, simple though it may seem, constitutes not only the legitimacy of one's illness, but also the validation of one's sanity and honor - evidence that the patient is not psychologically unstable and is not 'faking' it,” Sweeney said, in a press release.