Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a major health care and societal problem that affects millions of people worldwide. In Nigeria, 45,000 to 90,000 babies are born each year with SCD. In the United States, SCD is the most common genetic disorder, affecting more than 80,000 people, the majority of whom are African American. Sickle cell pain is the hallmark feature of SCD. Most of the research on pain from SCD has focused on children with acute pain associated with sickle cell crisis. Consequently, very little is known about the occurrence and characteristics of chronic pain, especially in adults with SCD. Individuals with SCD who experience chronic pain are often underserved, and their pain is undertreated. This undertreatment may result in millions of dollars per year spent on emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and lost work productivity. The primary purpose of this literature review was to summarize the findings from studies that evaluated the characteristics of chronic pain in adults with SCD. Each of the studies included in this review was evaluated to determine if it provided data on the following multidimensional characteristics of chronic pain: occurrence, number of pain episodes, duration, pattern, quality, location, intensity, aggravating factors, relieving factors, and impact of pain on function. A secondary purpose was to identify gaps in knowledge and directions for future research on the multiple dimensions of chronic pain in adults with SCD.
2010 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.