Burden of spinal cord injury-related neuropathic pain in the United States: retrospective chart review and cross-sectional survey

Spinal Cord. 2013 Jul;51(7):564-70. doi: 10.1038/sc.2013.34. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Study design: Cross-sectional, observational study.

Objectives: Characterize demographic and clinical characteristics, health status, pain, function, productivity and economic burden in spinal cord injury-related neuropathic pain (SCI-NeP) subjects, by pain severity.

Setting: United States. One hundred and three subjects diagnosed with SCI-NeP recruited during routine primary care or specialty physician office visits completed a questionnaire to assess patient-reported outcomes. Physicians completed a case report form on inclusion/exclusion criteria, subject clinical characteristics and health-care resource use (HRU) based on 6-month retrospective chart review.

Results: Subjects' mean age was 48.7, 69.9% were male and 48.5% were unable to walk. The most frequently reported comorbidities were sleep disturbance/insomnia (28.2%), depressive symptoms (25.2%) and anxiety (23.3%). Subjects' mean pain severity score was 5.3 (0-10 scale), and 77.7% reported moderate or severe pain. On a 0-10 scale, subjects' reported moderate pain interference with function: mean 5.4. Subjects' health status, as measured by the EuroQol 5-dimensions health-state utility, was 0.49 (-0.11 to 1.00 scale). Pain interference with function and health status were significantly worse among subjects with more severe pain (P<0.0005). Among employed subjects (13.6%), overall work impairment was 38.0%. The proportion of subjects who were prescribed ≥1 medication was 94.2%, and the mean number of physician office visits in past 6 months due to SCI-NeP was 2.2. Total annualized cost per subject was $26 270 (direct: $8636, indirect: $17 634).

Conclusion: SCI-NeP subjects exhibited high pain levels, despite active management. Pain levels were associated with poor function, low health status and lost productivity. HRU was prevalent, and costs, particularly indirect, were substantial, highlighting unmet need.

Sponsorship: This study was supported by Pfizer, Inc.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / economics*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Depression / economics*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / economics*
  • Neuralgia / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Leave / economics
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / economics*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / economics*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology