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Incidence of Pain Post SCI

Pain is a frequent complication of traumatic spinal cord injury. Reported estimates of the incidence of pain following SCI range anywhere from 11 to 94% (Botterell et al. 1953; Burke 1973; Davidoff et al. 1987a; Davis & Martin 1947; Donovan et al. 1982; Kaplan et al. 1962; Kennedy 1946; Munro 1948, 1950; Nashold & Bullitt 1981) with more recent studies reporting an incidence from 48-94% (Britell & Mariano 1991; Cairns et al. 1996; Cohen et al. 1988; Mariano 1992; Rose et al. 1988). Estimates of debilitating or disabling pain range from 11-34% (Botterell et al. 1953; Davis & Martin 1947; Kaplan et al. 1962; Munro 1948; Nepomunceno et al. 1979). Bonica (1991) noted that on combining the data on six reported studies of pain in SCI and 1,028 subjects (Botterell et al. 1953; Burke 1973; Davis & Martin 1947; Nepomunceno et al. 1979; Rose et al. 1988; Woolsey 1986), 53% had various types of “deafferent” pain. These wide ranging estimates are felt to be a reflection of significant heterogeneity in defining pain in this population.

Bonica (1991) reviewed data contained in 10 reports that surveyed 2,449 SCI patients (Botterell et al. 1953; Britell 1986; Burke 1973; Davis & Martin 1947; Kaplan et al. 1962; Munro 1950; Nepomunceno et al. 1979; Richards et al. 1980; Rose et al. 1988; Woolsey 1986). Chronic pain was present in 1,695 (69%) and in 30% of these patients it was rated as severe. Six of the reports (Botterell et al. 1953; Burke 1973; Davis & Martin 1947; Nepomunceno et al. 1979; Rose et al. 1988; Woolsey 1986) analyzed the different types of pain. Out of a total of 1,965 patients, 608 (31%) of the patients had central pain, dysesthesia, or phantom limb pain, 219 (12%) had root pain, and 198 (10%) had visceral pain caused by a central mechanism. There were 1,028 (53%) SCI patients with deafferented pain.