Assessment of neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury using quantitative pain drawings

Rosner, Jan and Lüthof, Robin and Hostettler, Pascal and Villiger, Michael and Clijsen, Ron and Hohenauer, Erich and Barbero, Marco and Curt, Armin and Hubli, Michelé (2021) Assessment of neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury using quantitative pain drawings. Spinal Cord. ISSN 1362-4393

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Study design Clinimetric cross-sectional cohort study in adults with paraplegic spinal cord injury (SCI) and neuropathic pain (NP). Objective To assess the reliability of standardized quantitative pain drawings in patients with NP following SCI. Setting Hospital-based research facility at the Spinal Cord Injury Center, Balgrist University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland. Methods Twenty individuals with chronic thoracic spinal cord injury and neuropathic pain were recruited from a nationalnand local SCI registry. A thorough clinical examination and pain assessments were performed. Pain drawings were acquired at subsequent timepoints, 13 days (IQR 7.8–14.8) apart, in order to assess test-retest reliability. Results The average extent [%] and intensity [NRS 0–10] of spontaneous NP were 11.3% (IQR 4.9–35.8) and 5 (IQR 3–7), respectively. Pain extent showed excellent inter-session reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.96). Sensory loss quantified by light touch and pinprick sensation was associated with larger pain extent (rpinprick = −0.47, p = 0.04; rlight touch = −0.64, p < 0.01). Conclusion Assessing pain extent using quantitative pain drawings is readily feasible and reliable in human SCI. Relating information of sensory deficits to the presence of pain may provide distinct insights into the interaction of sensory deafferentation and the development of neuropathic pain after SCI.

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