Pain symptom profiles in persons with spinal cord injury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: Persistent pain is a common consequence of spinal cord injury. A patient-specific assessment that combines both the identification of pain symptoms and psychosocial factors is needed for a tailored treatment approach. The aim of the study was to define pain symptom profiles and to determine their relationship with psychosocial factors in persons with spinal cord injury. Design: Face-to-face interview and examination. Setting: VA Medical Center and Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Miami, Florida. Patients: Persons with spinal cord injury (135 men and 21 women) provided detailed descriptions of 330 neuropathic pains. Outcome Measures: The American Spinal Injury Impairment Scale, pain history and measures of pain interference, life satisfaction, locus of control, social support and depression. Results: The exploratory factor analyses and regression analyses revealed three distinct symptom profiles: 1) aching, throbbing pain, aggravated by cold weather and constipation predicted by a combination of chance locus of control and lower levels of life satisfaction; 2) stabbing, penetrating, and constant pain of high intensity predicted by a combination of pain interference, localized pain, powerful others locus of control and depressed mood; and 3) burning, electric, and stinging pain aggravated by touch and muscle spasms predicted by pain interference. Conclusions: Although these results need to be replicated in other spinal cord injury samples, our findings suggest that pain symptom profiles may be a useful way to further characterize pain in a comprehensive assessment strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1246-1259
Number of pages14
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Chronic Pain
  • Life Interference
  • Multidimensional Pain Inventory
  • Pain Interference
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Symptom Profiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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