Spinal Cord Injury Pain: Impact, Classification, Treatment Trends, and Implications From Translational Research

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Pain following spinal cord injury (SCI) has been recognized as a significant problem in the literature for over half a century. Prevalence estimates have varied widely, with most reports suggesting this to be an extremely common condition (60%–90%). Severe pain is reported by perhaps 25%, but for these persons, pain is literally the “insult added to injury.” Effective treatments with a substantial body of empirical support did not exist until recently, and research progress has been compromised by lack of a standardized method for classifying and assessing pain. Encouraging developments for both assessment and treatment have occurred and are reviewed. There have been parallel developments in research using animal models of SCI pain that argue for exploration of translational work from animals to humans. Areas of research in which psychologists have been active and/or could become active are reviewed, both in clinical and translational research arenas.

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