Pain, spasticity and quality of life in individuals with traumatic spinal cord injury in Denmark

Spinal Cord. 2016 Nov;54(11):973-979. doi: 10.1038/sc.2016.46. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence, predictors and impact of self-reported pain and spasticity and examine variables affecting quality of life in individuals with a traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting: Nationwide, Denmark.

Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was sent out to individuals with a traumatic SCI. The questionnaire included questions about demographics and SCI characteristics, pain, spasticity and quality of life.

Results: In total, 537 questionnaires were completed. Seventy-three percent reported chronic pain of which 60% used descriptors suggestive of neuropathic pain. The average pain intensity and interference were 5.6 (s.d. 2.3) and 5.0 (s.d. 2.8), respectively, on a 0-10 numeric rating scale (NRS), and 28.1% reported severe pain. Seventy-one percent reported spasticity. Average interference of spasticity was 2.9 (s.d. 2.7). Quality of life scores were 6.5 (s.d. 2.5) for life and life situation, 5.5 (s.d. 2.6) for physical health and 6.7 (s.d. 2.6) for mental health on the NRS (0-10). Female gender was associated with lower mental health scores and tetraplegia with lower physical health scores, and high pain interference and shorter time since injury were associated with lower quality-of-life scores for all three parameters. Pain with descriptors suggestive of neuropathic pain was associated with lower quality-of-life scores than pain without such descriptors.

Conclusion: Chronic pain and spasticity are common problems after SCI, and in particular, high pain interference is associated with lower quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / complications
  • Muscle Spasticity / epidemiology*
  • Neuralgia / complications
  • Neuralgia / epidemiology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires