The National Pain Study was a prospective, computer-based, descriptive survey of the pain experience of persons with a bleeding disorder conducted in the United States over a 28 month period from 2007 to 2009. The aim of this study was to (i) determine the language used by patients to describe and differentiate acute and persistent pain, (ii) describe pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies utilized to control pain, (iii) assess the perceived effectiveness of current pain management on quality of life and, (iv) to determine who provides pain management to this population. One thousand, one hundred and four surveys were received. Only the responses of the 764 respondents who reported having hemophilia A or B were evaluated for this paper. Thirty nine percent of participants reported their pain was not well treated. The average acute pain score associated with a bleed reported was 5.97/10 while the average persistent pain score reported was 4.22/10. The most frequently reported word descriptors for acute pain were: throbbing, aching, sharp, tender and miserable. The most frequently reported word descriptors for persistent pain were aching, nagging, tiring, sharp, and tender. The most frequently reported pain strategies for acute and persistent pain included factor, rest, ice, elevation, and compression. Alcohol and illicit drugs were reportedly used to manage both acute pain as well as persistent pain. Primarily, short-acting opioids and acetaminophen were reported to treat both acute and persistent pain. Hematologists and primary care providers provide the majority of pain management for persons with hemophilia (PWH). Quality of life (QOL) scores were lowest in the domains of pain, energy/fatigue and physical problems indicating disruption of QOL. This substantiates under-recognition and under-treatment of pain in the hemophilia population when combined with the 39% of respondents who felt their pain was not well treated and literature in the general pain population of wide spread under-treatment of pain.
Recommendations: The NPS is an initial step in recognizing the prevalence and description of pain in PWH. HTC providers should educate themselves in pain management techniques to better serve this population. Further research is necessary to develop specific pain management guidelines for the bleeding disorders population that include multimodal holistic treatment plans.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.