Pain is one of the most common problems after spinal cord injury. Approximately 90% of persons with spinal cord injury report pain 6 months after their injury, while approximately 80% report pain at 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 25 years after injury. Research suggests that pain remains a significant problem for persons with spinal cord injury throughout their lifetimes. Also, people with spinal cord injury consider adequate pain management one of their highest unmet needs.
For these reasons it is important to understand how various types of pain occur and change over time. It is also important to understand different levels of severity of pain and how pain may interfere with life activities. Understanding pain after spinal cord injury may provide clinicians with better diagnostic tools and potential target for treatment. Having a better understanding of pain could help guide clinical decisions and inform newly injured patients on what to expect in the long-term with regard to their pain.
As pain affects most people after spinal cord injury, in a significant way, a greater understanding of this secondary consequence of spinal cord injury, through research, is clearly needed to advance preventative and treatment strategies. There is sufficient scientific evidence to support the need for an Exploration and Discovery project regarding the development of specific pain types over the course of the first year after SCI.
The objectives of this multi-site collaborative project include:
- To present a comprehensive description of the commonness of pain sub-types and pain treatments used by persons with spinal cord injury in the US over the first year post injury
- To describe how the start of pain, interference with daily activities, and intensity of pain vary over the first year in newly injured persons with spinal cord injury
- To identify neurosensory characteristics and psychosocial factors that will help clinicians predict the later development of persistent pain after spinal cord injury
- To explore the relationship between pain, life satisfaction, resilience and other psychosocial factors and track how they may predict pain over time.
The expected outputs of this study have a strong likelihood of advancing the science related to pain assessment and treatment after spinal cord injury. The outputs could provide clinicians with potential new approaches to treatment and ultimately the ability to improve the quality of life of those with spinal cord injury.