Neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), have increased in prevalence and are expected to further increase in the coming decades. In this regard, PD affects around 3% of the population by age 65 and up to 5% of people over the age of
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Neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), have increased in prevalence and are expected to further increase in the coming decades. In this regard, PD affects around 3% of the population by age 65 and up to 5% of people over the age of 85. PD is a widely described, physically and mentally disabling neurodegenerative disorder. One symptom often poorly recognized and under-treated by health care providers despite being reported as the most common non-motor symptom is the finding of chronic pain. Compared to the general population of similar age, PD patients suffer from a significantly higher level and prevalence of pain. The most common form of pain reported by Parkinson’s patients is of musculoskeletal origin. One of the most used combination drugs for PD is Levodopa-Carbidopa, a dopamine precursor that is converted to dopamine by the action of a naturally occurring enzyme called DOPA decarboxylase. Pramipexole, a D2 dopamine agonist, and apomorphine, a dopamine agonist, and Rotigotine, a dopamine receptor agonist, have showed efficacy on PD-associated pain. Other treatments that have shown efficacy in treating pain of diverse etiologies are acetaminophen, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors. Opioids and opioid-like medications such as oxycodone, morphine, tramadol, and codeine are also commonly employed in treatment of chronic pain in PD. Other opioid related medications such as Tapentadol, a central-acting oral analgesic with combined opioid and noradrenergic properties, and Targinact, a combination of the opioid agonist oxycodone and the opioid antagonist naloxone have shown improvement in pain. Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin, pregabalin, lamotrigine, carbamazepine and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can be trialed when attempting to manage chronic pain in PD. The selective serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also possess pain relieving and antidepressant properties, but carry less of the risk of anticholinergic side effects seen in TCAs. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) has been shown in multiple studies to be effective against various types of PD associated pain symptoms. Massage therapy (MT) is one of the most common forms of complementary and alternative medicine. Studies have shown that pressure applied during MT may stimulate vagal activity, promoting reduced anxiety and pain, as well as increasing levels of serotonin. In a survey study of PD patients, rehabilitative therapy and physical therapy were rated as the most effective for pain reduction, though with only temporary relief but these studies were uncontrolled. Yoga has been studied for patients with a wide array of neurological disorders. In summary, PD pathology is thought to have a modulating effect on pain sensation, which could amplify pain. This could help explain a portion of the higher incidence of chronic pain felt by PD patients. A treatment plan can be devised that may include dopaminergic agents, acetaminophen, NSAIDs, opioids, antidepressants, physical therapies, DBS and other options discussed in this review. A thorough assessment of patient history and physical examination should be made in patients with PD so chronic pain may be managed effectively.