Many children and teens with cerebral palsy are struggling with chronic pain, researchers say, but it often goes unrecognized and untreated.
More than 25 percent of young people with cerebral palsy have moderate to severe chronic pain that limits their activities, researchers report this month in the journal Pediatrics. The most common causes cited were hip dislocation and dystonia.
The findings come from a study looking at more than 250 individuals ages 3 to 19 with cerebral palsy. Physicians, primary caregivers and, when possible, the individuals themselves responded to questionnaires about their experiences with pain.
“This study has underlined the importance of asking every child with CP about their pain levels,” said Melanie Penner, a fellow in developmental pediatrics at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto who worked on the research.
With communication challenges and a variety of possible triggers in many with cerebral palsy, assessing the impact of pain on this population has often proven difficult, the researchers said. Accordingly, they indicated that clinicians need to be aware of common causes of pain and be proactive about treating it.