Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Chronic pain associated with the Chikungunya Fever: long lasting burden of an acute illness

Daniel Ciampi de Andrade1, Sylvain Jean23, Pierre Clavelou3, Radhouane Dallel3 and Didier Bouhassira1*

Author Affiliations

1 INSERM, U-987 Boulogne-Billancourt, F-92100 France; CHU Ambroise Paré, Centre d'Evaluation et de Traitement de la Douleur, AP-HP, Boulogne-Billancourt, F-92100 France

2 Chemin Maunier, 97440 Saint-André, La Réunion France

3 INSERM, U929, Clermont-Ferrand, F-63000 France; Université Clermont1, Clermont-Ferrand, F-63000 France; CHU Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand, F-63000 France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-31

Published: 19 February 2010



Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is responsible for major epidemics worldwide. Autochthonous cases were recently reported in several European countries. Acute infection is thought to be monophasic. However reports on chronic pain related to CHIKV infection have been made. In particular, the fact that many of these patients do not respond well to usual analgesics suggests that the nature of chronic pain may be not only nociceptive but also neuropathic. Neuropathic pain syndromes require specific treatment and the identification of neuropathic characteristics (NC) in a pain syndrome is a major step towards pain control.


We carried out a cross-sectional study at the end of the major two-wave outbreak lasting 17 months in Réunion Island. We assessed pain in 106 patients seeking general practitioners with confirmed infection with the CHIK virus, and evaluated its impact on quality of life (QoL).


The mean intensity of pain on the visual-analogical scale (VAS) was 5.8 ± 2.1, and its mean duration was 89 ± 2 days. Fifty-six patients fulfilled the definition of chronic pain. Pain had NC in 18.9% according to the DN4 questionnaire. Conversely, about two thirds (65%) of patients with NC had chronic pain. The average pain intensity was similar between patients with or without NC (6.0 ± 1.7 vs 6.1 ± 2.0). However, the total score of the Short Form-McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ)(15.5 ± 5.2 vs 11.6 ± 5.2; p < 0.01) and both the affective (18.8 ± 6.2 vs 13.4 ± 6.7; p < 0.01) and sensory subscores (34.3 ± 10.7 vs 25.0 ± 9.9; p < 0.01) were significantly higher in patients with NC. The mean pain interference in life activities calculated from the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) was significantly higher in patients with chronic pain than in patients without it (6.8 ± 1.9 vs 5.9 ± 1.9, p < 0.05). This score was also significantly higher in patients with NC than in those without such a feature (7.2 ± 1.5 vs 6.1 ± 1.9, p < 0.05).


There exists a specific chronic pain condition associated to CHIKV. Pain with NC seems to be associated with more aggressive clinical picture, more intense impact in QoL and more challenging pharmacological treatment.