Change in pain catastrophizing in patients with lumbar spinal surgery

Ho Joong Kim, Oh Hyo Kwon, Bong Soon Chang, Choon Ki Lee, Heoung Jae Chun, Jin S. Yeom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background Context Even though catastrophizing can negatively moderate the outcome of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), it is still unclear whether pain catastrophizing is an enduring stable or a dynamic structure related to pain intensity after spine surgery. Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine whether catastrophizing would change in patients who undergo spinal surgery for LSS. Study Design A prospective observational cohort study was carried out. Study Sample Patients who underwent spine surgery for LSS comprised the study sample. Outcome Measures The Visual Analog Pain Scale (VAS) scores for back/leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) were the outcome measures. Methods The present observational cohort consisted of 138 patients between the ages of 40 and 80 years who were scheduled to undergo surgery for LSS. Among them, a total of 96 patients underwent a 3-year assessment after surgery. The PCS questionnaire was used for pain catastrophizing assessment before and 3 years after surgery. The VAS for back and leg pain, and ODI were assessed 3 and 6 months, and 1 and 3 years after surgery. The correlations between variables were analyzed before and 3 years after surgery. To clarify the causal relationship, time-series and linear mixed models were also used. Results At 3 years after surgery, ODI, VAS for back and leg pain, and PCS scores were significantly decreased. The correlation of PCS with VAS and ODI was significant both before and 3 years after surgery. The correlation between change in pain or disability and change in pain catastrophizing from preoperative to 3 years after surgery was also significant. In the causal relationship between pain and catastrophizing, overall changes in pain and disability were significant predictors of overall changes in pain catastrophizing from baseline to 3 year after surgery. Conclusion The present study shows that pain catastrophizing can change in association with the improvement in pain intensity after spine surgery. Therefore, catastrophizing may not be an enduring stable construct, but a dynamic construct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Catastrophizing
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Oswestry disability index
  • Pain Catastrophizing Scale questionnaire
  • Spine surgery
  • Visual analog pain scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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