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Physical disability and the experience of chronic pain

      Abstract

      Dudgeon BJ, Gerrard BC, Jensen MP, Rhodes LA, Tyler EJ. Physical disability and the experience of chronic pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83:229-35. Objectives: To obtain an insider's view about disability-related pain to help rehabilitation clinicians understand the experience and to show how people with disability manage daily living and encounters with other people. Design: Qualitative methods by using open-ended interviews and thematic analysis. Setting: Rehabilitation research program. Participants: Nine adults with chronic physical disability and pain were recruited from study groups. The 9 included people with spinal cord injury, acquired amputation, or cerebral palsy. Intervention: Interview protocol. Main Outcome Measure: Phenomenologic analysis of interviews based on codewords derived from interview topics and themes. Results: Study participants described pain as a part of daily living that influenced many lifestyle decisions. They characterized pain as plural, meaning that it has multiple locations, distinctive descriptions, and different implications. They also were concerned about pain being a mystery, having unclear causes and consequences. Typically they described pain as a personal venture, with little or dissatisfying communication about pain with family, friends, or health care providers. Conclusions: Understanding pain associated with physical disability can help guide rehabilitation practitioners in their pain assessments, interventions, and related research. Our findings suggest that some people with disability-related pain may benefit from reassurance and specific planning for expected and unexpected pain episodes. © 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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