Pain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a neglected aspect of disease

Neurol Res Int. 2011;2011:403808. doi: 10.1155/2011/403808. Epub 2011 May 3.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder marked by progressive loss of motor neurons, muscle wasting, and respiratory dysfunction. With disease progression, secondary symptoms arise creating new problematic conditions for ALS patients. Amongst these is pain. Although not a primary consequence of disease, pain occurs in a substantial number of individuals. Yet, studies investigating its pathomechanistic properties in the ALS patient are lacking. Therefore, more exploratory efforts into its scope, severity, impact, and treatment should be initiated. Several studies investigating the use of Clostridial neurotoxins for the reduction of pain in ALS patients suggest the potential for a neural specific approach involving focal drug delivery. Gene therapy represents a way to accomplish this. Therefore, the use of viral vectors to express transgenes that modulate the nociceptive cascade could prove to be an effective way to achieve meaningful benefit in conditions of pain in ALS.