Last Updated on June 4, 2024

Is Cerebral Palsy Painful?

Specific cerebral palsy types cause various degrees and frequencies of pain (which can be persistent or intermittent). Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that can affect a person’s motor skills and development. These conditions are caused by damage to a developing child’s brain – whether during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth

Children suffering from this condition face developmental challenges and reduced quality of life. It is very difficult for a child with cerebral palsy to gain independence. Apart from physical challenges, emotional and psychological distress also accompanies this disease. This does not only affect the kid but their family as a whole.

In the US, about 8,000 to 10,000 babies develop Cerebral Palsy every year. At the same time, around 1,200 to 1,500 preschool-aged children are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy annually. Any sort of medical negligence that has directly led to the development of Cerebral Palsy warrants a medical malpractice claim.

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Types Of Cerebral Palsy and Where They Cause Pain

There are five main types of cerebral palsy, each causing different kinds of pain. These types are as follows:

TYPESSYMPTOMS / PAIN
Spastic Cerebral Palsy– Stiff, tight muscles that are hard to move
– Joints that can't move as much as they should
– Unusual posture and walking
– Pain from muscle tightness and joint stress
– Pain from nerve damage
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy– Muscles that change from too tight to too loose
– Uncontrolled, jerky movements
– Hard to make precise movements and coordinate
– Painful muscle contractions and spasms
– Pain from abnormal posture and movements
– Trouble with feeding and speech, which can be painful
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy– Unsteady walking and poor balance
– Shaky movements and tremors
– Difficulty with precise tasks
– Pain from falls or overusing certain muscles to keep balance
Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy– Low muscle tone, making the body feel floppy
– Loose joints and poor posture
– Difficulty with motor skills and coordination
– Pain from joint instability and muscle strain
Mixed Cerebral Palsy– A combination of the above types
– Symptoms and pain depend on the types involved

In addition to these main types, people with cerebral palsy can also experience pain from related conditions, such as: 

  • Hip dislocation 
  • Scoliosis (curved spine)
  • Digestive issues
  • Dental problems from trouble with mouth movements
  • Skin sores from limited mobility or equipment use

The severity and frequency of pain vary greatly among individuals with cerebral palsy. Proper assessment and management of pain, tailored to each person's needs, are crucial to minimize the impact of pain on their daily life and overall well-being.

Pain in Children

Caring for a child with cerebral palsy and chronic pain is emotionally and physically demanding. It can lead to stress, financial strain, and challenges in managing daily activities and medical appointments. Furthermore, pain assessment is relatively more challenging in children with cerebral palsy.

Chronic pain in children with cerebral palsy can hinder their physical, cognitive, and social development. It may limit their ability to participate in therapy, school, and social activities, potentially impacting their overall development.

Effective pain management, medication, physical therapy, and psychological support can alleviate pain and help affected kids progress. Adaptive equipment, assistive devices, and accommodations at school and home can also improve comfort. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for children in pain.

Pain in Adults

Adults with cerebral palsy may experience worsening pain as they age due to factors such as overuse of muscles and joints, arthritis, and age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system. As such, regular monitoring and management are crucial.

Over time, adults with cerebral palsy may develop secondary conditions like osteoarthritis, spinal degeneration, and chronic pain syndromes due to abnormal stress on the body. Regular check-ups can help detect and manage these issues early.

Pain management in adults focuses more on long-term strategies, such as lifestyle modifications, adaptive equipment, and pain-relieving medications. Whereas, the emphasis for affected children is on early intervention, therapy, and minimizing developmental impact.

Pain Relief for Cerebral Palsy

Families collaborate with healthcare professionals in choosing treatments based on the child's needs, symptom severity, and potential benefits and risks. They also consider personal preferences, lifestyle, and financial resources when making decisions.

While some treatments like therapy remain consistent, the focus shifts from development in childhood to maintaining function and managing age-related changes in adulthood. Regular evaluations help adjust treatment plans to meet evolving needs.

Conventional treatment options for cerebral palsy include:

In a recent study, it was found that 2 in every 1000 people had cerebral palsy – 70% of which had spastic cerebral palsy. Among all children suffering from cerebral palsy, about 42% do not get the treatments that they need because of the costs that these medical interventions entail.

The report also suggests that families with children suffering from cerebral palsy spend around $22,383 for treatments annually. This number fluctuates depending on the severity of the condition. Children who have walking difficulties spend more; at $43,687 annually.  More mobile children, on the other hand, would need $10,368 every year.

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Cerebral Palsy Caused by Medical Negligence

Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of childhood disability in live births. Around 80% of cerebral palsy incidents stem from errors made during prenatal care. On the other hand, about 10% were caused by errors made during postnatal care.

Negligent healthcare providers pose an increased risk for such errors. Some of the more common errors made by medical facilities include:

  • Failure to monitor fetal distress;
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors; and 
  • Delayed cesarean section.

When establishing a medical malpractice claim, an intensive initial investigation is required. Within said investigation, your legal team would aim to establish the following key elements:

Duty of Care – Was there an appropriate doctor-patient relationship?
Breach of Duty – Did your doctor perform poorly/negligently based on accepted standards of care?
Causation – Did your doctor’s actions/inactions directly cause you harm?
Damages – What did these errors cost you?

Medical malpractice experts typically work with trusted medical consultants during this initial investigation. Apart from establishing your claim, the responsibilities of your cancer malpractice lawyer include gathering pieces of evidence, officially filing your case, and negotiating for your compensation.

Speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At the Porter Law Group, our team of proven medical malpractice lawyers delivers ideal results. We take pride in helping families rebuild after unfavorable circumstances.  We operate on a contingency basis – meaning you do not need to pay us anything unless we win your case. Through this approach, we can better support families during their times of need.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, please reach out to us for a non-obligatory free case evaluation. You can also contact us at 833-PORTER9 or  info@porterlawteam.com to schedule a consultation.

Written By
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
Legally Reviewed on June 4, 2024
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on June 4, 2024. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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