Research on oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy focuses mainly on genetic and pathophysiological aspects. Clinically, oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy is often considered as a disease with a relatively mild initial disease course with no or only mild functional disabilities. However the occurrence of fatigue, pain and functional impairments other than dysphagia has never been studied systematically. The aim of this study is therefore to assess the prevalence of fatigue, pain, and functional limitations, and the social participation and psychological well-being of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy patients. We performed a questionnaire study on fatigue, pain, functional impairments, social participation and psychological distress in 35 genetically confirmed oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy patients with an average disease duration of 11.6 years. We showed that 19 (54%) of the patients experienced severe fatigue and also 19 (54%) experienced pain. Limitations in daily life activities and social participation were detected in 33 (94%) of the patients. Many patients reported pelvic girdle weakness and limitations in ambulation. Fatigue severity was related to functional impairments, while pain and disease duration were not. Psychological distress was not different from healthy adults. In conclusion, fatigue and pain are present among approximately half of the patients, and almost all patients are impaired in daily life activities, social participation and ambulation. These data should be taken into account in symptomatic management of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy.
Keywords: Fatigue; Functional impairments; OPMD; Pain.
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