Chronic pain secondary to disability: A review

Dawn M. Ehde, Mark P. Jensen, Joyce M. Engel, Judith A. Turner, Amy J. Hoffman, Diana D. Cardenas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Background: Until recently, very little has been written regarding chronic pain as a secondary problem in persons who already have a physical disability, despite the potential for pain to increase the negative impact of what may already be a very disabling condition. The purpose of this review is to summarize what is currently known concerning the nature and scope of chronic pain as a secondary condition to disability, specifically spinal cord injury, acquired amputations, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular disease, and postpolio syndrome. Method: What is known concerning the frequency, severity, impact, and treatment of pain in these specific conditions is reviewed, as are the factors that contribute to, or are associated with, adjustment to chronic pain in these disability groups. The authors conclude with several research questions that emerge from this knowledge, the answers to which will contribute to the long-term goal of the reduction of pain and suffering in persons with disabilities. Conclusions: The existing literature clearly documents that many persons with disabilities experience chronic pain. Many questions remain unanswered regarding the scope, severity, and treatment of chronic pain in these groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Postpolio syndrome
  • Residual limb pain
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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