The prevalence of pain among patients with chronic kidney disease using systematic review and meta-analysis

Emilie Lambourg, Lesley Colvin, Greg Guthrie, Kiruthikka Murugan, Michelle Lim, Heather Walker, Georgia Boon, Samira Bell (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Pain is a common but often undertreated symptom in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with a much higher prevalence than in the general population. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize all available quantitative evidence, in order to gain a better understanding of pain prevalence and pain types in patients with CKD. Four databases and the grey literature were searched until 15th January 2021. Random-effect meta-analyses were conducted with multiple subgroup analyses and meta-regressions to further explore the between-study heterogeneity. The quality of studies included was assessed using the Newcastle Ottawa scale and the level of evidence was determined using the GRADE approach. One hundred sixteen studies reported data on 40,678 individuals. Results from meta-analyses yielded an overall prevalence of 60% (95% confidence interval 56-64) for pain, 48% (42-55) for chronic pain and 10% (6-15) for neuropathic pain. The prevalence of pain was lower among kidney transplant recipients 46% (37-56) compared with patients undergoing dialysis 63% (57-68) and those with non-dialysis CKD 63% (55-70). Musculoskeletal pain appeared to be the most common pain symptom among patients with CKD managed conservatively 42% (28-56) or receiving dialysis 45% (36-55) whilst abdominal pain was most prevalent in kidney transplant recipients 41% (7-86). Thus, all subgroups of patients with CKD suffer from a high burden of pain. Hence, greater awareness and recognition of this issue is vital to inform policy and service provision in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
JournalKidney International
Early online date30 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Apr 2021


  • chronic kidney disease
  • pain
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis
  • prevalence
  • epidemiology

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