Is There Pain With Muscular Dystrophy?

Yes, there is pain with muscular dystrophy (MD).1 There are different types of muscular dystrophy, these affect either certain muscle groups or can affect most of the muscle groups in the body. The main problem in the muscular dystrophy is the muscle weakness. But pain is also an important symptom, which is most of the time neglected or not recognized as an issue. Most of the patients with muscular dystrophy are in pain, this affect their quality of life. They reduce self-esteem, reduce confidence, and become depressed and isolated. Psychosocially they tend to fall back and this affect their identity and independence. Therefore, it is important to identify pain, categorize it and treat it efficiently; this should be practiced in every medical evaluation done for muscular dystrophy patients. This gives the muscular dystrophy patient’s more strength and courage to face their other problems and increase their self-esteem.

Is There Pain With Muscular Dystrophy?

What are the types of pain in muscular dystrophy? Pain is usually classified into 2 types; this can be applied to patients with muscular dystrophy as well.

Acute Pain: Pain that comes suddenly, usually the cause for acute pain is inflammation or injury. Acute pain can be accompanied by fear, anxiety, and distress. Acute pain sometimes go away without any treatment quickly or gradually, sometimes with treatment it goes away or it turn into a chronic pain.

Chronic Pain: Chronic pain means, pain that has been present for a long time. Usually it is difficult control the pain with medication and it is worsen by psychological and environmental factors. Chronic pain tend to affect the quality of life and daily activities.

How To Assess Muscular Dystrophy Pain?

Pain assessment is a very subjective matter, sensitivity to pain changes according to the person. Therefore, it’s important to assess pain accurately. Proper pain assessment technique should be developed, this can include questions like

  • Are you in pain?
  • When did it start?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means no pain and 10 means worst pain) how much will you give for the pain in different parts of the body.
  • What triggers the pain?
  • What makes this pain worst?
  • What do you do when you get the pain, any reliving factors?
  • How has this affected your day to day life (what type of activity you can’t do now)
  • For infants, small children and non-verbal people proper pain assessments should be developed. For infants a behavior pain scale should be developed.

Muscular Dystrophy Pain Treatment

Medication: There are so many pain killers; your doctor will prescribe you an appropriate pain killer according to the severity of pain. E.g. acetaminophen, NSAID’s, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentin

Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy helps to reduce pain, maintaining a proper position and being flexible reduces the pain.2

Massage: Massage therapy also found to be helpful to reduce pain.

Hydration: Dehydration can cause headaches, back pain. Therefore, drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated.

Counseling Sessions: This might help you to understand why you get pain and adjust your mind to cope up with pain. You can attend to support groups for muscular dystrophy patients or support groups for patients with chronic pain. The psychological support helps a lot to cope up with the pain.

Speeding Time With Your Family: Sharing your worries and thoughts with your family will help you a lot. This reduces the stress and anxiety, which can aggravate your pain. Spend time with your loved one’s every day.

Summary

Yes, there is pain with muscular dystrophy (MD). The main problem in the muscular dystrophy is the muscle weakness. But pain is also an important symptom which is most of the time neglected or not recognized as an issue. Muscular dystrophy patients also experience acute pain which is a sudden pain and chronic pain which has been there for some time. Assessment of pain should be done in every clinical visit. Proper pain assessment technique should be carried out. Pain treatment includes drugs, physiotherapy, massaging, counseling sessions, and spending time with your family.

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