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Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, autosomal, recessive disease caused by a mutation in hemoglobin’s beta chain that results in structural alterations to the red blood cell membrane, lowering its average lifespan and oxygen-carrying capacity. This study, published in Hematology, Transfusion, and Cell Therapy, sought to determine the impact of neuropathic pain on quality of life in adults with SCD. 

A total of 100 adults with SCD with a mean age of 35.79 years were included in the study. Most patients were of African descent and from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and 63.0% were female. Patients with autoimmune disorders, diabetes, hypertension, HbSD, HbSE, and beta-thalassemia were not included in the study. 

The researchers utilized The Brief Pain Inventory to assess pain features. The Douleur Neuropatique Questionnaire and the Anxiety and Depression Hospital scale were used to differentiate between nociceptive and neuropathic pain and evaluate psychological behavior, respectively. Finally, the shortened form of the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire was utilized to measure the influence of pain characteristics on the different quality of life categories. 

Ultimately, frequent pain was found in 80.0% of patients, neuropathic pain in 69.7% of patients, nociceptive pain in 30.3% of patients, anxiety in 99% of patients, and depression in 100% of patients. Patients with neuropathic pain reported significantly lower quality of life scores in all domains than patients with nociceptive pain. No association was found with pain intensity. 

The researchers concluded that neuropathic pain is more prevalent than nociceptive pain in patients with SCD and results in worse quality of life. A call to action is made to better manage nociceptive pain in patients with SCD to optimize their quality of life and help them cope with anxiety and depression [1]. 

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[1] Santos, L. F. O. D., Guimarães, M. W., Baptista, A. F., & Sá, K. N. (2021). Impact of neuropathic pain on quality of life in adults with sickle cell disease: observational study. Hematology, Transfusion and Cell Therapy, 43(3), 263–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.htct.2020.03.010