A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that more than 25 percent of adolescents with cerebral palsy experience moderate to severe chronic pain that can be debilitating, according to Disability Scoop. Often, the researchers say, the pain goes unnoticed and unknown by physicians. The most common ailments that cause pain in cerebral palsy patients are hip dislocation and dystonia, a condition that leads to “involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow, repetitive movements or abnormal postures,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormalities in the brain that affect body movement and muscle coordination. The condition is usually present at birth, and it does not worsen over time. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are various treatment options available to ensure a child or adolescent with the condition lives a more comfortable life.
In the study, the researchers looked at more than 250 cerebral palsy patients between the ages of 3 and 19. During the study, the treating doctors, the primary caregivers, and sometimes the patients themselves participated in questionnaires about the amounts of pain the patients felt. The researchers say it is important to gauge pain levels because it is often difficult for a child or an adolescent with cerebral palsy to communicate the amount of pain experienced. The questionnaire featured the Health Utilities Index 3 Pain subset, which asked about the presence and kind of pain. In addition, the physician completing the questionnaire was also asked to provide a clinical diagnosis.
The participating physicians noted pain in 38.7 percent of the patients. The pain often limited activities in daily life. The researchers suggest that clinicians take note of the most common sources of pain. Additionally, the researchers say “potential causes of pain should be identified and addressed early to mitigate the negative impact of pain on quality of life.”