Pain Common With Sickle Cell Disease
Study: Sickle Cell Disease Patients Are in Pain More Often Than Previously Reported
Jan. 14, 2008 -- Pain is "the rule rather than
exception" among adults with sickle cell disease,
Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition in which certain
red blood cells become crescent-shaped (sickled). That makes it hard for those
cells to pass through narrow blood vessels, which deprives tissue of oxygen and
Experts at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University
studied 232 people age 16 and older (average age: 32) with sickle cell
For six months, the patients kept daily diaries about their sickle cell
pain. Those diaries show that:
- 29% of the patients reported sickle cell pain nearly every day.
- 54% reported pain on more than half of the days.
- Only 14% rarely reported pain.
- Average pain intensity was in the middle of the study's pain scale.
The patients often didn't go see a doctor about their sickle cell pain,
handling it at home instead.
"Our results are both surprising and striking," write Virginia
Commonwealth University's Wally Smith, MD, and colleagues. "Pain in adults
with sickle cell disease is far more prevalent and severe than previous studies
have portrayed, and it is mostly managed at home."
Smith's team concludes that sickle cell disease should be recognized as a
source of chronic pain. The study appears in the Annals of Internal