Pain interference in persons with spinal cord injury: Slassification of mild, moderate, and severe pain

Marisol A. Hanley, Ana Masedo, Mark P. Jensen, Diana Cardenas, Judith A. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Pain intensity is commonly measured by patient ratings on numerical rating scales (NRS). However, grouping such ratings into categories may be useful for guiding treatment decisions or interpreting clinical trial outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine pain intensity classification in 2 samples of persons with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and chronic pain. The first sample (n = 307) rated the average intensity and activity interference of pain in general, and the second sample (n = 174) rated their worst pain problem. Pain intensity was categorized as mild, moderate, or severe using 4 possible classification systems; analyses were performed to determine the classification system that best distinguished the pain intensity groups in terms of activity interference. In both samples, the optimal mild/moderate boundary was lower (mild = 1-3 on a 0-10 NRS scale) than that reported previously for individuals with other pain problems. The possibility that pain may interfere with activity at lower levels for individuals with SCI requires further exploration. The moderate/severe boundary suggested by previous research was confirmed in only one of the samples. Implications for the assessment of pain intensity and functioning in persons with SCI and pain are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-133
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Classification
  • Pain interference
  • Severity
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Nursing(all)


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