Effects of chronic pain on quality of life and depression in patients with spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2013 Jan;51(1):23-6. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.51. Epub 2012 May 1.


Design: A cross-sectional study.

Objective: To assess the effects of pain on quality of life (QoL), functional independence and depression in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting: An inpatient rehabilitation center.

Methods: A total of 140 patients (104 M, 36 F) with SCI who underwent inpatient rehabilitation treatment were examined. A questionnaire including clinical variables was applied. Motor score of Functional Independence Measure was used to assess daily-life activities, the 36-Item Medical Outcomes Short-Form Health (SF-36) for QoL and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) for depression. Patients were then divided into those having chronic pain (Group I) and those without any pain (Group II), and groups were compared according to demographic and clinical variables.

Results: The most common causes of SCI were falls (35.0%) and motor vehicle accidents (34.2%). Chronic pain was present in 78% of patients. Patients employed before injury and patients who had complete injury had lower Numerical Rating Scale scores (P<0.05). SCI patients with chronic pain had higher depression ratings and their BDI scores were correlated with some of the SF-36 domains (general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health). Only bodily pain and social functioning (P<0.05) scores were found to be lower in Group I (P<0.05) when compared with Group II.

Conclusion: As mood and QoL are negatively affected with pain in SCI patients, we suggest that chronic pain should always be treated in a multidisciplinary setting where pharmacological, physical and psychological therapies are combined.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / etiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / epidemiology
  • Neuralgia / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology