Chronic Pain and Hydrocephalus

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    Many people with hydrocephalus experience chronic pain although the exact numbers are unknown. Unfortunately, there is little research specifically focused on hydrocephalus and chronic pain.

    According to one study, 20% of people with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) experienced persistent abdominal pain after shunt surgery and 31% experienced headaches several times per month (compared to 11% in control subjects) (Larsson et al., 2017). For people treated in childhood, severe disabling headaches were reported in 29% of children, 42% of adolescents, and 44% of adults, according to a Hydrocephalus Association survey (Rekate and Kranz, 2009). To learn more visit, Headaches and Hydrocephalus.

    Despite the lack of research, there are many resources for people living with chronic pain. Organizations such as the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) provide many useful resources and up to date information on treatment options for chronic pain.

    In 2018, the ACPA published new guidelines on chronic pain management and treatment. To download the guidelines click here.


    What is Chronic Pain?

    According to the ACPA guidelines, chronic or persistent pain is defined as ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury healing, more than 3 to 6 months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well-being. Another definition for chronic or persistent pain is pain that continues when it should not.


    Who has Chronic Pain?

    Anyone can develop chronic pain. It is estimated that 20-40% of children and adolescents experience chronic pain and that 75% of people over 65 report experiencing chronic pain (ACPA, ACPA Resource GuideTo Chronic Pain Management An Integrated Guide to Medical, Interventional, Behavioral, Pharmacologic and Rehabilitation Therapies, 2018). Therefore chronic pain is common in the general population. It is likely that people with hydrocephalus experience specific types of chronic pain (such as abdominal pain) due to the placement of a shunt or due to changes in intracranial pressure (ICP).


    How to treat Chronic Pain

    The ACPA 2018 Guidelines review an extensive list of chronic pain treatments including the use of medication, self-directed interventions, and active interventions such as yoga and pilates. It is important to note that many people will not experience complete pain relief. However, many resources are available to help you find ways to effectively manage your chronic pain symptoms.


    Chronic Headaches, Pain and Migraines Resources

    This article is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. It is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. For diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition, consult your doctor.