Neuropathic Pain Experiences of Spinal Cord Injury Patients

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Abstract

Background:

Neuropathic pain (NP) is a common, severe problem that affects spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. Only SCI patients truly understand the impact and extent of this type of pain.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to understand the NP experienced by SCI patients and the influence of this type of pain on their daily life.

Method:

A qualitative design was used. An interview guide including a semistructured questionnaire and in-depth interviews was conducted with SCI patients with NP in a neurorehabilitation department at a medical center in northern Taiwan. The data were collected using a purposive sampling method. Content analysis was performed on the interview data, which were obtained from 13 SCI patients with NP.

Results:

Three themes and eight subthemes were identified that described the NP experience of the participants and the influence of NP on their daily life. The three themes included elusive pain (changing and individual pain sensations, erratically haunting threat, and phantom limb sensations), complicated feelings about pain (converting depression into an active attitude toward life, having feelings of anticipation and anxiety about future pain relief, and facing and experiencing pain), and renewed hope (bravely fighting pain and seeking pain relief methods).

Conclusions:

This study revealed three important themes of NP experienced by SCI patients, including elusive pain, complicated feelings about pain, and renewed hope. Nurses should understand the nature of NP, provide a thorough pain assessment, and design a proper pain management plan to care effectively for patients with NP.

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