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Perspectives

Assessing and managing pain after spinal cord injury

Philip J Siddall, James W Middleton

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Abstract

Pain following a spinal cord injury can be complex and challenging to manage. Clearer direction for treatment and a number of specific resources now exist to help people with pain after a spinal cord injury and also healthcare professionals involved in the care of these patients.

Key Points

  • Pain following spinal cord injury (SCI) is common, often severe in intensity and has a major impact on physical function, emotional wellbeing and quality of life.
  • There are several well characterised and classified types of pain that present following SCI with different features and underlying mechanisms.
  • Assessment should seek to determine the different biological, physical, psychological and environmental contributors to the pain, as well as any potential spinal red flags.
  • The optimal treatment of pain following SCI relies on an integrated approach that uses the full range of pharmacological and nonpharmacological options to achieve the best outcomes possible.

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