Pain quality descriptors and sex-related differences in patients with shoulder pain

Chi Lun Rau, Jing Lan Yang, Jiu Jenq Lin, Pei Chi Wu, Chieh Yi Hou, Chen Yi Song, Ching Lin Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pain quality assessment is applicable to pain evaluation and treatment. However, shoulder pain quality descriptors mostly remain unknown. Furthermore, sex-related differences considerably affect clinical pain experience. The aim of this study was to investigate pain quality descriptors and to compare sex-related differences in using pain descriptors among patients with shoulder pain. Materials and methods: A sample of 120 patients (41 males and 79 females) with shoulder pain was recruited from Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Shoulder pain quality descriptors were investigated using a 36-item pain quality list. Sex-related differences in the number and frequency of pain quality descriptors were compared using independent t-test and X test, respectively. 2 Results: Fifteen commonly used shoulder pain quality descriptors were identified. Among them, “sore” was the most frequently used, followed by “pulled”. Deep pain sensations (eg, sore, pulled, torsion, and taut) were relatively more predominant than superficial pain sensations (eg, pricking and lacerating). In terms of sex-related differences, female patients used more pain quality descriptors than the male patients (5.5 vs 3.7, P<0.001). The frequency of paroxysmal, dullness, and constriction-related pain quality descriptors, such as “shooting”, “faint”, “clicking”, and “squeezing”, were higher in females than in males (all P<0.05). Conclusion: The results provide commonly used shoulder pain quality descriptors that are useful for assessing shoulder pain and for developing a new shoulder pain assessment tool. Because the shoulder pain quality profiles differed between male and female participants, clinicians and researchers should consider sex-related differences in assessing and treating shoulder pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1809
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Culture
  • Measurement
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Pain assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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