Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disease. As the disease progresses, motor disturbances and non-motor symptoms represent considerable illness burdens. Symptom relief is the goal for the treatment. Pain is frequently observed in patients with Parkinson’s disease, but its prevalence, characteristics and associations with Parkinson’s disease are poorly documented. These were investigated in 176 home-living PD patients. They underwent a neurological examination and a structured interview for registration of pain characteristics in addition to responding to standardised questionnaires. Pain was reported by 146 (83%) patients. Compared to the general population, the Parkinson’s disease patients experienced significantly more pain as measured by SF-36 Bodily Pain Scale. The average pain during the last 24 h measured by the Brief Pain Inventory was 2.85. Fifty-three percent of the patients reported one, 24% reported two and 5% reported three pain types. Musculoskeletal pain was reported by 70%, dystonic pain by 40%, radicular-neuropathic pain by 20% and central neuropathic pain by 10%. Thirty-four percent were on analgesic medication. Pain was not associated with age, disease duration or severity of the disease; female gender was the only significant predictor of pain. Pain is frequent and disabling, independent of demographic and clinical variables except for female gender, and is significantly more common in Parkinson’s patients compared to the general population. A minority of the Parkinson’s disease patients with pain received analgesic medication. The findings call for improved attention to assessment and treatment of pain in the follow-up of Parkinson’s disease patients.
aDepartment of Neurology, Akershus University Hospital, N-1478 Lørenskog, Norway
bNational Resource Centre for Studies of Long-term Effects after Cancer, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Norway
cDepartment of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
dDepartment of Adult Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway
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Submitted May 21, 2008; revised November 19, 2008; accepted December 1, 2008.