Abstract

Background

The prevalence of pain among people with a variety of individual neurological conditions has been estimated. However, information is limited about chronic pain among people with neurological conditions overall, and about the conditions for which chronic pain is most prevalent. To fill these information gaps, a common method of pain assessment is required.

Data and methods

The data are from the Survey on Living with Neurological Conditions in Canada, a cross-sectional national survey. Based on self-reports, chronic pain was assessed for 16 neurological conditions. Multivariable logistic regression was used to produce odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results

Close to 1.5 million individuals aged 15 or older who lived in private households reported having been diagnosed with a neurological condition. The overall prevalence of chronic pain for the 16 neurological conditions combined was 36% (95% CI: 31% to 42%). The odds of chronic pain were significantly elevated among individuals with spinal cord trauma.

Interpretation

Chronic pain is highly prevalent among people with neurological conditions, particularly those with spinal cord trauma. These results suggest a need to target health services and direct research to improved pain management, and thereby reduce the burden of neurological disease.

Keywords

Migraine, pain assessment, pain measurement, spinal cord diseases, spinal cord injuries

Findings

According to recent estimates, 6 million people in Canada (19% of the population) and 25 million in the United States (11%) report a form of chronic pain. Debilitating in the general population, chronic pain among people with neurological conditions further reduces quality of life and increases the burden on the health care system. [Full Text]

Authors

Jacquelyn J. Cragg (jacquelyn.cragg@icord.org), Freda M. Warner, Matthew S. Shupler, Catherine R. Jutzeler, David G.T. Whitehurst, and John K. Kramer are with the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD). Jacquelyn J. Cragg, Freda M. Warner, Matthew S. Shupler, Catherine R. Jutzeler, Neil Cashman, and John K. Kramer are also with the University of British Columbia. David G.T. Whitehurst is also with Simon Fraser University.

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What is already known on this subject?

  • The prevalence of chronic pain has been estimated for various neurological conditions.
  • To determine the prevalence of pain among people with neurological conditions overall and the neurological conditions for which pain is most prevalent, a common method of pain assessment is required.

What does this study add?

  • The 2011/2012 Survey on Living with Neurological Conditions in Canada (SLNCC) asked respondents: “Are you usually free of pain or discomfort?”
  • With SLNCC data, it is possible to estimate and compare the prevalence of chronic pain among people with neurological conditions.
  • More than a third of individuals aged 15 or older with neurological conditions reported that they were not usually free of pain.
  • Among people with spinal cord trauma, the prevalence of chronic pain was particularly high, at 84%.

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