Physical Activity for Pain

Exercise has been shown to improve subjective well-being for individuals with chronic disease and disability. Specifically, a study found high amounts of heavy intensity and mild intensity physical activity correlated with lower levels of pain among individuals with SCI who use a manual wheelchair as their primary mode of mobility (Tawashy et al. 2009).


Exercise programs which included resistance and strength training were shown to significantly improve pain post SCI (Ginis et al. 2003; Nawoczenski eta l. 2006; Serra-Ano eta l. 2012; Finley & Rogers 2007; Nash et al. 2007). There is conflicting evidence for the use of exoskeleton walking to reduce SCI related pain (Stampacchia et al. 2016; Baunsgaard et al. 2018).


There is level 1b evidence (from one RCT: Ginis et al. 2003) that a resistance training based exercise program significantly reduces post-SCI neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain.

There is level 2 evidence (Middagh et al. 2013) that exercise combined with biofeedback improves musculoskeletal pain post SCI.

There is conflicting evidence from two level 4 pre-post studies (Stampacchia et al. 2016; Baunsgaard et al. 2018) for the use of exoskeleton for reducing pain post SCI.

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