Pain after Spinal Cord Injury

By Nancy Xia, Community Resource & Education Assistant, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury is common and often chronic. Up to 92% of the people in our community have experienced various degrees of pain. Having pain can drastically reduce the quality of people’s lives and discourage them from doing the things that they enjoy.

The good news is, in most cases, pain is manageable. Recently, a study was done to establish guidelines for pain following a spinal cord injury and this publication was released: The CanPain SCI Clinical Practice Guidelines for Rehabilitation Management of Neuropathic Pain after Spinal Cord.

Researchers and health care providers from all across the country gathered at a summit on November 4th, 2016 to talk about the implementation of this clinical guide that will potentially better the lives of people suffering from neuropathic pain. During this full day meeting, we also talked about the missing pieces and gaps in current practice, as well as our vision for the next five to ten years.

We all agreed that providing education to the consumers and strengthening our communication network are the two most important strategies. In the not-so-distant future, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario hope’s to develop a number of educational products for people living with spinal cord injury. In particular, we are hoping to develop a plain-language guide on Pain Management after SCI. This will be a collaborative effort between healthcare professionals, educators and peers.

In the meantime, here are some resources that are already available and you may not be aware of:

  • The SCI Pain Navigator:
    • This is an Australian website that helps people gain a better understanding of neuropathic pain. You will hear directly from peers about helpful strategies, tools and pain management skills. For example, you will find insightful information on how physical activity, nutrition, lifestyle and medications will help alleviate pain.
    • Visit: http://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/chronic-pain/chronic-pain
  • Brain and Spinal Cord Leap Service: