Pain in patients with spinal cord injury

Pain. 2013 Dec;154 Suppl 1:S71-S76. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.12.007. Epub 2012 Dec 22.


Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) often have chronic pain, which may have a major impact on their quality of life. The purpose of this article is to present an update on the classification of SCI pain, recent advances in the understanding of underlying mechanisms, and current evidence-based treatment of SCI pain. The paper also discusses difficulties in assessing pain after SCI, both in the clinic and in preclinical research. While we continue to increase our understanding of underlying mechanisms, treatment is still unsatisfactory, and there is an unmet need to improve pain relief. We need to improve preclinical assessment of pain-like behavior in central pain models, and improve the clinical assessment of pain and our understanding of the interaction with cognitive, emotional, and social factors. In future studies on mechanisms and treatment, we need to acknowledge the different phenotypes of chronic SCI pain.

Keywords: Allodynia; Mechanisms; Musculoskeletal pain; Neuropathic pain; Spinal cord injury; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Pain / diagnosis*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*