Pain in Parkinson's disease: analysis and literature review

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2013 Nov;115(11):2313-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2013.08.022. Epub 2013 Sep 8.


Pain is a common problem faced by Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Despite its impact and disabling effects pain is still frequently overlooked. In this study we analyze a representative sample of peer reviewed literature for the prevalence and types of pain in PD, the impact and significance of pain in the quality of life of the PD patient and the challenges inherent in the diagnosis and management of pain in PD patients. We compared and analyzed the findings of articles indexed in the PubMed database which looked at symptoms reported by large cohorts of PD patients. These articles all reported the incidence, nature and quality of pain in these patients and described the effects of pain on quality of life and generally were cross-sectional, retrospective or case-control studies, though a major pharmacoepidemiological design study was also analyzed. Results of our analysis showed that the pain was prevalent in 59.77% of PD patients. Five different types of pain were reported by PD patients--dystonia, musculoskeletal pain, nerve/nerve root pain, primary/central pain and according to some, akathisia. Patients who reported pain symptoms were also significantly more likely to report associated depression and a decreased quality of life. Many PD patients also reported poor management of pain and lower analgesic use than would be expected. We further discuss some of the possible approaches toward the development of a treatment algorithm regarding the management of pain in PD. We conclude that pain in is an under-recognized and under treated symptom in PD patients. Effective management of pain in PD patients would significantly improve their quality of life. Our analysis is in line with current thinking that identifies PD is much more of a multisystem disease with non-motor symptoms than previously thought.

Keywords: Dystonia; Non Motor symptoms; Pain; Parkinsonism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*