Pain in children with Bell's palsy: Secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial

Franz E. Babl, Nitaa Eapen, David Herd, Meredith L. Borland, Amit Kochar, Ben Lawton, Jason Hort, Adam West, Shane George, Andrew Davidson, John A. Cheek, Ed Oakley, Sandy M. Hopper, Robert G. Berkowitz, Catherine L. Wilson, Amanda Williams, Mark T. Mackay, Katherine J. Lee, Stephen Hearps, Stuart R. Dalziel

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Objective: To describe the prevalence and severity of pain experienced by children with Bell's palsy over the first 6 months of illness and its association with the severity of facial paralysis. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of data obtained in a phase III, triple-blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of prednisolone for the treatment of Bell's palsy in children aged 6 months to & lt;18 years conducted between 13 October 2015 and 23 August 2020 in Australia and New Zealand. Children were recruited within 72 hours of symptom onset and pain was assessed using a child-rated visual analogue scale (VAS), a child-rated Faces Pain Score-Revised (FPS-R) and/or a parent-rated VAS at baseline, and at 1, 3 and 6 months until recovered, and are reported combined across treatment groups. Results: Data were available for 169 of the 187 children randomised from at least one study time point. Overall, 37% (62/169) of children reported any pain at least at one time point. The frequency of any pain reported using the child-rated VAS, child-rated FPS-R and parent-rated VAS was higher at the baseline assessment (30%, 23% and 27%, respectively) compared with 1-month (4%, 0% and 4%, respectively) and subsequent follow-up assessments. At all time points, the median pain score on all three scales was 0 (no pain). Conclusions: Pain in children with Bell's palsy was infrequent and primarily occurred early in the disease course and in more severe disease. The intensity of pain, if it occurs, is very low throughout the clinical course of disease. Trial registration number: ACTRN12615000563561. & copy; Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberarchdischild-2023-325381
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number3
Early online date2 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2023

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