Spinal cord injury pain: the influence of psychologic factors and impact on quality of life

Clin J Pain. 2007 Jun;23(5):383-91. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31804463e5.


Objectives: To examine chronic pain prevalence in a spinal cord injury (SCI) population, and to determine the influence of psychologic factors on SCI pain and impact of SCI pain on quality of life.

Methods: Five hundred seventy-five persons with SCI were asked to participate in the study. Demographic, SCI, and pain characteristics were obtained. The Chronic Pain Grade, anger items of the Profile of Mood States, Illness Cognition Questionnaire, Pain Coping and Cognition List, and Patient Health Questionnaire were used. General health and well-being were assessed with 0-10 scales. The influence of psychologic factors was assessed with regression analyses controlling for person and injury characteristics and pain intensity.

Results: Response rate was 49%. SCI pain prevalence was high (77.1%). More internal pain control and coping, less catastrophizing, higher level of lesion, and nontraumatic SCI cause were associated with less pain intensity. More pain was associated with higher pain-related disability. Lower catastrophizing was related to better health. Less SCI helplessness and catastrophizing, greater SCI acceptance and lower anger levels were related to higher well-being. Higher levels of SCI helplessness, catastrophizing, and anger were related to higher depression levels. Pain intensity showed no independent relationships with health, well-being, and depression in the regression analyses.

Discussion: Chronic SCI pain and quality of life were both largely associated with several psychologic factors of which pain catastrophizing and SCI helplessness were most important. Psychologic intervention programs may be useful for persons suffering from chronic SCI pain to improve their quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires