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Pain Undertreated in Parkinson Disease, Multiple System Atrophy

March 18, 2019

Researchers are calling for better pain interventions for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA) after their study revealed that despite the prevalence of pain in the population, less than half of patients with pain received treatment for it.

Their study appeared online in the journal Pain Research and Management.

“This study found that PD and MSA patients often experienced pain. However, treatment of pain associated with Parkinson’s syndrome has not been taken seriously,” researchers wrote. “Clinicians should treat pain as seriously as the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s syndrome and take corresponding measures for the treatment of pain to improve the patients’ quality of life.”

The study included 71 patients with PD, 65 patients with MSA, and 40 age-matched healthy control subjects at Anhui Provincial Hospital in China. Patients were evaluating using the German pain questionnaire and visual analogue scale.

Patients with PD and MSA had a significantly higher incidence of pain compared with healthy controls, researchers reported. Specifically, 69.1% of patients with PD and 46.15% of patients with MSA had pain. Yet among patients experiencing pain, just 42.85% of those with PD and 43.33% of those with MSA received pain treatment.

Of the 21 patients with PD who received treatment for pain, 13 had improved pain intensity after using dopaminergic medication. Among the 13 patients with MSA who received treatment for pain, 6 had pain improvements with dopaminergic medication, according to the study.

The back, neck, and shoulders were the most common pain sites in both patients with PD and patients with MSA.

“Pain is a nonmotor symptom that is somewhat neglected,” researchers wrote. “In this study, we found that anxiety and depression were more likely to occur when PD patients suffered from pain and that the quality of life declined. Therefore, formulating an effective treatment for pain in PD and MSA can largely improve a patient’s emotional state and quality of life.”

Jolynn Tumolo


You HY, Wu L, Yang HT, Yang C, Ding XL. A comparison of pain between Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy: a clinical cross-sectional survey. Pain Research and Management. 2019:3150306.

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