Sensory Symptom Profiles of Patients With Neuropathic Pain After Spinal Cord Injury

Clin J Pain. 2017 Sep;33(9):827-834. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000467.


Aim: Individuals experiencing neuropathic pain (NP) after spinal cord injury (SCI) present with a variety of pain descriptors in different combinations and at different intensities. These sensory features form distinct patterns, known as sensory symptom profiles.

Methods: In the present cross-sectional study, we have used a multivariate statistical method (multiple correspondence analysis) to categorize the sensory symptom profiles of a cohort of 338 patients with at-level or below-level NP after SCI. We also investigated possible associations between positive neuropathic symptoms and features of the neurological lesion.

Results: The majority of participants had a combination of pain descriptors, with 59% presenting with 3 or 4 pain subtypes. No significant associations were found between specific pain profiles and etiology or clinical degree of the neurological lesion. Furthermore, similar symptom profiles were seen in patients with at-level and below-level NP. The most frequent pattern observed in patients with cervical SCI consisted predominantly of electric shocks and tingling, without burning, pressure pain, or allodynia.

Conclusions: Classification of SCI-NP patients into the 5 groups identified in the present study based on their distinct sensory symptom profiles may allow identification of those most likely to respond to a specific analgesic approach.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neuralgia / classification
  • Neuralgia / etiology*
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / classification
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult