Cross-Sectional Assessment of Factors Related to Pain Intensity and Pain Interference in Lower Limb Prosthesis Users

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017 Jan;98(1):105-113. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.09.118. Epub 2016 Oct 11.


Objective: To determine relationships between pain sites and pain intensity/interference in people with lower limb amputations (LLAs).

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Community.

Participants: Lower limb prosthesis users with unilateral or bilateral amputations (N=1296; mean time since amputation, 14.1y).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) pain intensity (1 item to assess average pain), PROMIS pain interference (4-item short form to assess the consequences of pain in desired activities), and questions that asked participants to rate the extent to which each of the following were a problem: residual limb pain (RLP), phantom limb pain (PLP), knee pain on the nonamputated side, back pain, and shoulder pain.

Results: Nearly three quarters (72.1%) of participants reported problematic pain in 1 or more of the listed sites. Problematic PLP, back pain, and RLP were reported by 48.1%, 39.2%, and 35.1% of participants, respectively. Knee pain and shoulder pain were less commonly identified as problems (27.9% and 21.7%, respectively). Participants also reported significantly (P<.0001) higher pain interference (T-score ± SD, 54.7±9.0) than the normative sample based on the U.S. population (T-score ± SD, 50.0±10.0). Participants with LLAs rated their pain intensity on average ± SD at 3.3±2.4 on a 0-to-10 scale. Pain interference (ρ=.564, P<.0001) and intensity (ρ=.603, P<.0001) were positively and significantly correlated with number of pain sites reported.

Conclusions: Problematic pain symptoms, especially RLP, PLP, and back pain, affect most prosthetic limb users and have the potential to greatly restrict participation in life activities.

Keywords: Amputation; Artificial limbs; Back; Health surveys; Knee; Pain; Phantom limb; Rehabilitation; Shoulder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation Stumps
  • Amputation, Surgical / adverse effects*
  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Artificial Limbs / adverse effects*
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception*
  • Phantom Limb / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult