Associations between recurrent musculoskeletal pain and visits to the family doctor (GP) and specialist multi-professional team in 74 Norwegian youth with cerebral palsy

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Abstract

Background

Musculoskeletal pain in cerebral palsy (CP) is common, but probably undertreated. The aim of the study was to explore if recurrent musculoskeletal pain (RMP) related to the CP condition was associated with visits to the family doctor [general practitioner (GP)] and specialist habilitation centre in youth with CP.

Methods

Seventy-four youth with CP (mean age 16.5 years, 40 boys) from the same geographical area were assessed by clinical examination, semi-structured interview on pain (adolescent and parent together), the two questions on pain from the Child Health Questionnaire (parents only) and a structured interview on health care services. Gross Motor Function Classification System was level I 39%, level II 23%, level III 8% and levels IV and V 30%.

Results

Thirty-five participants (47%) had visited their GP last year, and 49 (66%) had visited the specialist habilitation centre. The presence of RMP (n = 58; 78%) was not significantly associated with having visited the GP or the specialist habilitation centre. Still, in participants with RMP, increasing pain severity was associated with having visited the GP. Rest, massage, change of position and oral drugs were the most common measures taken to relieve RMP. Three adolescents with RMP did not take any measures to relieve pain.

Conclusion

Youth with RMP do take measures to relieve pain, but usually not in the direction of consulting the health care services available unless the pain is severe. Both youth with CP and their caregivers should be encouraged to discuss RMP with their professional network of care.

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