The role of brain imaging in SCI-related pain

Eva Widerström-Noga, Diana D. Cardenas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The role of brain imaging in the management of spinal cord injury (SCI)-related pain is still untapped but holds great promise. Objective: To provide a multidisciplinary framework for the use of various imaging techniques in SCI pain research and to describe changes in relevant brain structures implicated in the experience of pain. Method: A review of medical literature associated with acute and chronic pain, chronic SCI-related pain, relevant brain structures involved in the processing of pain, and various imaging techniques was performed using the PubMed database. Results: The present article provides a brief overview of the topic and is organized in the following manner: (1) introduction to chronic pain in SCI; (2) processing of pain; (3) common methods used for imaging of the brain in pain studies; (4) mechanisms of neuropathic pain; (5) role of specific brain areas based on research findings; (6) usefulness of imaging techniques in longitudinal studies and in clinical trials; and (7) conclusion. Conclusion: Brain imaging offers an opportunity to increase our understanding of the brain processes in persons with SCI and chronic pain and potentially generate new targets for therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


  • Brain imaging
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Neuropathic
  • Pain
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation


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