Those With Sickle Cell Disease Experience Pain More Often Than

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Sickle CellDisease

People withsickle cell disease experience pain more often and in more severe forms thanoriginally thought, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine,Reuters reports. Sickle cell disease affects one inevery 500 U.S. blacks and iscommon among residents of West and Central Africa.Blood cells of those with the disease become hard and pointed and can causeanemia, pain and other problems, such as blocking blood flow to the limbs andorgans.

For the study, Wally Smith of Virginia Commonwealth University and colleagues followed 232 Virginia patients whorecorded their daily pain levels for six months. Patients reported whether theysought care through a hospital for their pain.


According to the study, more than half the patients experienced pain on amajority of days and nearly one-third of patients experienced pain on almost adaily basis. The study said, "Pain in adults with sickle cell disease isthe rule rather than the exception and is far more prevalent and severe thanprevious large-scale studies have portrayed."

The study added that pain is "mostly managed at home; therefore, itsprevalence is probably underestimated by health care providers, resulting inmisclassification, distorted communication and undertreatment."

In a statement, Smith said, "We need more drugs to prevent the underlyingprocesses that cause pain in this disease. And we need better treatments toreduce the chronic pain and suffering that these patients go through"(Dunham, Reuters, 1/14).

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