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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 May 2021 - 7 May 2021

2021 Apr 29

J Pain

The prevalence, characteristics and impact of chronic pain in people with muscular dystrophies: A systematic review and meta-analysis.


Chronic pain is a frequent, yet under-recognised and under-assessed problem in people with muscular dystrophies (MDs). Knowledge of the prevalence and characteristics of chronic pain, and its impact on function and quality of life is limited and lacks systematic exploration. This article aims to systematically review and synthesise existing literature that addresses chronic pain prevalence, characteristics and impact in people with different types of MDs. The present meta-analysis showed that the estimated prevalence of chronic pain in MDs is high and appears to be similar across different diagnostic groups: 68% (95% CI: 52% to 82%) in FSHD, 65% (95% CI: 51% to 77%) in DM, 62% (95% CI: 50% to 73%) in BMD/DMD, and 60% (95% CI: 48% to 73%) in LGMD, although it should be noted that heterogeneity was high in some diagnostic groups. On average, people with FSHD and DM present with moderate pain intensity. The lumbar spine, shoulders and legs are the most frequent sites of chronic pain among people with FSHD, DM, BMD/DMD, and LGMD, with little variation. Diffuse pain across multiple body sites was reported by a notable proportion of these individuals. Chronic pain has a negative impact on daily life activities in people with MDs, and may also contribute to decreased quality of life. The protocol for this review has been published on PROSPERO (CRD42020168096). PERSPECTIVES: This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the prevalence, and nature and impact of chronic pain in people with MDs. The present study demonstrates how common chronic pain is across various MD populations and highlights the need for better recognition and understanding of the nature and impact of pain from health professionals.