Pain in persons with cerebral palsy

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999 Oct;80(10):1243-6. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(99)90023-0.


Objective: To examine the nature and scope of pain in persons with cerebral palsy (CP).

Design: Standardized interviews to assess demographics, pain experiences, and the impact of pain on activities.

Subjects: Ninety-three adults with CP recruited from medical clinics at the University of Washington and local residential and community housing for persons with developmental disabilities.

Main outcome measures: Weekly and 3-month pain intensities, chronic pain grade, interference in daily activities caused by pain, and pain-exacerbating and pain-relieving factors.

Results: Sixty-two subjects (67%) reported one or more areas of pain of > or =3 months' duration. Lower extremity pain and back pain were the most common complaints. Fifty-six percent of the subjects reporting pain indicated it occurred daily. Mean average pain intensity, graded on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (pain as bad as could be), was 3.16 (SD = 2.45) in the preceding week and 4.45 (SD = 2.34) in the previous 3 months. Approximately 53% of subjects reporting pain indicated their average pain was of moderate to severe intensity (average pain rated as > or =5). Using Von Korff's Chronic Pain Grade classification system, the majority of subjects who reported pain fell into either grade I (low disability, low pain intensity; 51%) or grade II (low disability, high pain intensity; 39%). Subjects reported many factors that exacerbate pain (eg, stress or weather) or decrease it (eg, exercise or rest).

Conclusions: The data suggest that pain is common in adults with CP. In many subjects, pain levels were moderate to intense.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disabled Persons* / classification
  • Disabled Persons* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors