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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Feb;89(2):320-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2007.08.153.

Chronic pain in persons with myotonic dystrophy and facioscapulohumeral dystrophy.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195-6490, USA.



To determine the nature and scope of pain in working-aged adults with myotonic muscular dystrophy (MMD) and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD).


Retrospective, cross-sectional survey.


Community-based survey.


Convenience sample of subjects with MMD and FSHD.


Not applicable.


Overall intensity and duration of pain, pain inference, pain sites, pain treatments, and relief provided by pain treatments.


More subjects with FSHD (82%) than with MMD (64%) reported pain. The most frequently reported pain sites for both diagnostic groups were lower back (66% MMD, 74% FSHD) and legs (60% MMD, 72% FSHD). Significant differences in pain intensity were found between the diagnostic groups in the hands, legs, knees, ankles, and feet, with patients with MMD reporting greater pain intensity at these sites than patients with FSHD. Age was related to the onset of pain (participants reporting pain were younger than those not reporting pain in the FSHD sample), but pain severity was not significantly associated with age in those reporting pain. Respondents with both diagnoses that reported mobility limitations and used assistive devices (eg, wheelchair, cane) reported more pain severity than those with mobility limitations who did not use assistive devices, who, in turn, reported more pain severity than respondents who reported no mobility limitations at all. The treatments that were reported to provide the greatest pain relief were not necessarily those that were the most frequently tried or still used.


The findings indicate that pain is a more common problem in persons with FSHD than in persons with MMD, although it is common in both populations. In addition, these pain problems are chronic, underscoring the need to identify and provide effective pain treatments for patients with these neuromuscular diseases.

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