Pain Phenotypes in Adults Living With Cerebral Palsy

Background and Objectives

To identify pain phenotypes among adults living with cerebral palsy (CP) and compare phenotypes of pain intensity, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and self-reported perceived stress.


Seventy-one adults with CP presented to the University of Michigan (mean age = 39.3 ± 16.2; 43 women, 28 men). The median of 6 on the American College of Rheumatology fibromyalgia survey was used to classify patients for nociplastic pain centralization. The painDETECT Score was used to classify patients for neuropathic pain. These measures were then used to cross-classify each patient into 1 of 4 possible pain categories: neuropathic, nociplastic, mixed neuropathic/noclipastic, or nociceptive pain (-neuropathic/-nociplastic pain).


Twenty-eight adults with CP (39.4%) were classified as nociceptive, 24 (33.8%) as nociplastic, 8 (11.3%) as neuropathic, and 11 (15.5%) as mixed neuropathic/nociplastic. Subgroups differed significantly on average scores on the Brief Pain Inventory pain intensity scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, and on the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System measures of anxiety and depression; the nociceptive pain subgroup reported lower pain and emotional distress compared with the other groups.


Findings suggest that type of pain is variable among adults with CP and may arise through multiple mechanisms.

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