Introduction: Pain may be a presenting symptom of Parkinson's disease or may occur during the motor fluctuation stages of the disease. The complexity and pathophysiology of pain in Parkinson's disease still remains poorly understood.
Objective: To characterize clinically the different painful presentations of Parkinson's disease, their relationship to the stage of the disease and their connections with motor fluctuations and treatment.
Methods: We reviewed painful syndromes in 388 consecutive parkinsonian patients of the Lausanne Movement Disorders Registry, based on an itemized questionnaire used prospectively to characterize the pain by its description, topography, date of appearance and possible relationship with motor fluctuations. Among these patients with clinically-diagnosed dopa-responsive Parkinson's disease, 269, i.e. 67 percent presented sensory or painful syndromes. Among them, 94 percent had muscular pain: stiffness (85 percent), cramps, pseudo-cramps, spasms (3 percent) or various myalgias (7 percent); 51 percent presented osteo-ligamentar "rheumatologic" pain, articular (23 percent), periarticular (3 percent) or spinal (31 percent), but less defined and localized neurogenic painful syndromes were less frequent (8 percent), such as paresthesia (6 percent), dysesthesia (<1 percent), burning sensation (2 percent), itching (<1 percent), ill defined discomfort (6 percent) or a feeling of heaviness (1 percent), with segmental (86 percent), axial (54 percent), radicular or pseudo-radicular (14 percent), acral distal (4 percent) or less frequently anorectal or visceral distribution. Restless legs or akathisia were occasional (10 percent). Headaches and facial pain were less frequent (1 percent), we did not encounter phantom pain. More than one quarter were present at the beginning of the disease, only (3 percent) of them resolved during the development of the disease. About one-third were clearly linked with motor fluctuations, the majority occurring in off phase (34 percent). We did not find any correlation with age, gender, duration or stage of disease, L dopa equivalent dose, depression, insomnia or autonomic dysfunction.
Conclusion: Painful syndromes are found in two thirds of patients with Parkinson's disease, with mainly pain of muscular origin, followed by osteoarticular and neurogenic painful syndromes, a quarter of the patients experience pain in early phases of the disease and a third in relation with motor fluctuations.