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This is the author's final version of the article published in Spinal Cord Series and Cases. 2022 Jan 28;8(1):14.

The published version of the article can be found on the journal's homepage at:

Copyright. Springer Nature


STUDY DESIGN: Survey OBJECTIVES: Better understand the demographics of pain after spinal cord injury (SCI).

SETTING: Academic Level 1 trauma center and SCI Model System.

METHODS: A survey including general demographic questions, questions of specific interest to the authors, the standardized SCI Pain Instrument (SCIPI), International SCI Pain Data Set, Basic form (ISCIPDS:B), Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) neuropathic 5a (PROMIS-Neur), and PROMIS nociceptive 5a (PROMIS-No).

RESULTS: 81% of individuals with SCI experience chronic pain and 86% of individuals with pain have neuropathic pain. 55% of individuals had shoulder pain. Females and those who recall >5/10 pain during initial hospital stay had significantly higher PROMIS-Neur scores. Completeness of injury correlates inversely with the degree of neuropathic pain. Those who recall >5 pain during the initial hospital stay and those who reported the worst or second worst pain as being shoulder pain had significantly higher PROMIS-No scores. Lumbosacral injuries trended towards higher PROMIS-No scores and had the highest PROMIS-Neur scores. Those with tetraplegia were more likely to develop shoulder pain and those with shoulder pain had higher PROMIS-No scores.

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic pain is almost universal in patients with SCI. Pain is more commonly reported as neuropathic in nature and females reported more neuropathic pain than males. Physicians should monitor for nociceptive shoulder pain, particularly in those with tetraplegia. Patients with incomplete injuries or lumbosacral injuries are more likely to report higher levels of neuropathic pain and pain levels should be monitored closely. Those with more neuropathic and nociceptive pain recall worse pain at initial hospitalization. Better understanding pain demographics in this population help screen, prevent and manage chronic pain in these patients.

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