Pain prevalence, severity and impact in a clinic sample of multiple sclerosis patients


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Abstract

SummaryPrevious studies have reported variable prevalence of pain in multiple sclerosis (MS) and have not documented the impact of pain on daily living. In this consecutive series, we report on data collected from structured interviews with 85 patients seen within a 16-month period at a regional referral clinic. The prevalence of pain for the month preceding assessment was 53%. There were no significant differences between patients who did and those who did not report pain on the basis of patient demographics (age, gender) and disease characteristics (disease subtype, duration and neurologic symptom severity). Disease duration and neurologic symptom severity were significantly correlated with the number of hours of pain per week but were not correlated with pain severity, the number of pain sites or pain-related distress. There was wide variability in the number of pain hours/week reported with 17.6% of the sample reporting continuous pain for the month preceding assessment. Sixty-five percent of patients with pain reported taking medications for pain and 90% of these patients evaluated their medication(s) as 50% effective or better. Nevertheless, patients with pain reported poorer mental health and more social-role handicap. Discussion focuses on the need for routine assessment of pain and the comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of pain interventions in the therapeutic management of patients with MS.

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