Chronic pain/dysaesthesiae in spinal cord injury patients: results of a multicentre study

Spinal Cord. 1997 Jul;35(7):446-55. doi: 10.1038/


The aim of the multicentre study entitled 'Description and Documentation of Painful States in Spinal Cord Injury Patients', in addition to the description and documentation of chronic pain and stressful dysaesthesiae in SCI patients, was the search for correlations between these symptoms and medical and psychosocial variables. To this end, the sample was selected to be as representative as possible. All patients referred for in-patient or out-patient treatment at the centres taking part were enrolled in the study in order of presentation, providing they gave consent and met the inclusion criteria. Psychosocial, medical and demographic data were elicited by a standardized battery of questions and a standardized physical examination, as were any chronic pain/dysaesthesiae (P/D) present in any localization. Among 901 patients, 34% had no chronic pain or dysaesthesiae, 50% had pain only, 11% had painful dysaesthesiae and 5%, non-painful but chronic and distressing dysaesthesiae. The intensity of P/D was noted as seven or more on a 10 cm visual analogue scale by 61% of the patients affected and was experienced as rather or very distressing in 75% of cases. Most (86%) P/D were located below the spinal lesion or in the transition zone. There were significant correlations between the presence of P/D and age on questioning and at onset of the paraplegia/tetraplegia, problems with rectal paralysis, expectations of life as a paraplegic/tetraplegic, and subjective assessment of changes in working life. Highly significant correlations were found with subjective distress resulting of paraplegia/tetraplegia as such, depressed mood and psychosomatic disturbances of wellbeing. Overall, among the selected variables of our study, we found that correlations between P/D and psychosocial variables were more frequent and closer than those between P/D and medical variables.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology