The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of pain in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared to a sample from the Norwegian general population. This cross-sectional study evaluated 100 COPD patients with and without pain and 333 individuals from the Norwegian population with pain. After controlling for age and sex, a significantly higher percentage of patients with COPD (45%) reported pain than the general population (34%; P = .02). No differences were found in pain intensity scores, pain interference score, or number of pain locations between COPD patients and the general population. COPD patients reported moderate-to-severe pain located primarily in the chest, shoulders, neck, and thorax. For both groups, the most common pain treatment was analgesic use. Acupuncture/transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation was used more frequently by COPD patients (P < .001) while physiotherapy was used more frequently by the general population (P = .007) to treat their pain. Pain is a significant problem for COPD patients. Additional research is warranted to replicate these findings and to provide a more detailed characterization of how pain changes over time and influences COPD patients' ability to function and their quality of life.
Perspective: Compared to the general population, pain is more common in patients with COPD and ranges from moderate to severe in its intensity.
Copyright © 2011 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.