Pressure ulcer pain: A systematic literature review and national pressure ulcer advisory panel

Barbara Pieper, Diane Langemo, Janet Cuddigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Pain is an ever-present problem in patients with pressure ulcers. As an advocate for persons with pressure ulcers, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) is concerned about pain. To synthesize available pressure ulcer pain literature, a systematic review was performed of English language literature, specific to human research, 1992 to April 2008, using PubMed and the Cumulative Index in Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Fifteen relevant papers were found; they examined pain assessment tools, topical analgesia for pain management, and/or descriptions of persons with pressure ulcer pain. Studies had small sample sizes and included only adults. The literature established that 1) pressure ulcers cause pain; 2) pain assessment was typically found to be self-reported using different versions of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, Faces Rating Scale, or Visual Analog Scale; 3) pain assessment instruments should be appropriate to patient cognitive level and medical challenges; 4) in some cases, topical medications can ease pain and although information on systemic medication is limited, pain medications have been found to negatively affect appetite; and 5) wound treatment is painful, particularly dressing changes. Research gaps include the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcer pain, the impact of pain on nutrition, and pressure ulcer pain considerations for special groups (eg, children, end-of-life patients, and bariatric patients). The NPUAP presents this white paper as the current scientific know-ledge base on the topic. Research regarding the multidimensional aspects of pressure ulcer pain is strongly recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalOstomy Wound Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • General Nursing
  • Gastroenterology


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