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)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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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. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 International Society of Nephrology. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-649
Number of pages14
JournalKidney International
Issue number3
Early online date29 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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