Pain in a Large Community Sample of Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.

TitlePain in a Large Community Sample of Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsEhde DM, Chwastiak LA, Pelzer E, Boag-Whitley T, Kraft GH
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Increasingly it has been recognized that persons with MS can experience chronic neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain. This study sought to examine the prevalence, intensity, interference, and potential biopsychosocial predictors of pain in a large sample of persons with MS. Methods: A survey was mailed to 1,389 members of the King county (WA) MS Association; 739 subjects returned the survey, for a response rate of 53%. Numeric rating scales adapted from the Chronic Pain Grade assessed average pain intensity and pain-related activity interference. Depression was evaluated with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Severity of illness was determined by a self-report version of the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). Results: Forty-four percent of the sample reported that they had experienced persistent, bothersome pain the three (3) months, participants with pain reported a mean intensity rating of 5.2 (SD=2.3) on the 0 (no pain) to 10 (pain as bas as could be) scale; 27% reported severe pain. Of those with pain, 58% rated the interference of their pain with daily activities as none to minimal. However, 17% reported severe interference in activities as a result of pain. Of those with pain, 27% reported that it was a significant problem for them. Depressive symptoms, social support, duration of MS, and MS illness severity were strongly associated with pain. Conclusions: Approximately a fourth of this sample described having a chronic pain problem characterized by severe average pain intensity and significant pain-related interference with activities. Although preliminary, the fact that both biological and psychosocial factors were associated with pain suggests that biopsychosocial models of pain warrant additional empirical attention in the MS population.

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