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How Pain Relates to Motor Function in PD Patients

June 11, 2019

Although pain is a common symptom among patients with Parkinson disease (PD), researchers found that pain was weakly correlated with the performance of general activities, and it was not correlated with the remaining classic motor PD symptoms.  

In order to understand the relationship between pain and motor dysfunction in patients with PD, a team of researchers analyzed 54 patients with PD. The average age of the study participants was 66 and they were all in the “on” period of the anti-Parkinson medication. Among these patients the researchers assessed: 

  • pain (King's Parkinson's disease pain scale‐KPPS and Brief Pain Inventory‐BPI);
  • performance in routine activities and motor function (Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale UPDRS II and III);
  • gait (Dynamic gait index); and,
  • balance (Mini‐BESTest).  

The findings of this study were published online in Pain Practice.

Of the 54 identified participants, 38 reported mild to moderate pain. According to the findings, a positive correlation between the total KPPS score and performance in general activities was observed. The researchers also identified a negative correlation between pain intensity and motor function, as well as a negative correlation between pain intensity and bradykinesia subscore of the UPDRS III.  

The researchers noted that there was no correlation between pain and gait performance or balance. They explained that musculoskeletal pain was the most commonly reported pain (81.5%), followed by nocturnal pain (52.6%) and fluctuation-related pain (47.3%). Further, the most painful areas were lower limbs (33.0%) and shoulders/cervical (31.0%).  

Finally, the researchers found that 21 (55.3%) out of 38 study participants reported pain that interfered in their working, walking ability, and general activities.  

“Pain was weakly correlated with the performance in general activities and with bradykinesia but was not correlated with the remaining classic motor PD symptoms neither with gait or balance performance,” the researchers concluded. “Pain was a prevalent symptom in the present sample and the individuals reported its interference on functionality.” 

Julie Gould


de Mattos DC, Meziat Filho NA, Pedron CA, Vasconcellos LF, Nogueira LAC, de Oliveira LAS. Pain characteristics and its relationship with motor dysfunction in individuals with parkinson disease - a cross-sectional study [published online June 7, 2019. Pain Pract. doi: 10.1111/papr.12803

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