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Sensory Symptom Profiles of Patients With Neuropathic Pain After Spinal Cord Injury

Soler, Maria Dolors NPsy, PhD*,†; Moriña, David PhD‡,§; Rodríguez, Neus Psy, MSc*,†; Saurí, Joan Psy, MSc*,†; Vidal, Joan MD, PhD*,†; Navarro, Albert PhD§; Navarro, Xavier MD, PhD∥,¶

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000467
Original Articles

Aim: Individuals experiencing neuropathic pain (NP) after spinal cord injury (SCI) present with a variety of pain descriptors in different combinations and at different intensities. These sensory features form distinct patterns, known as sensory symptom profiles.

Methods: In the present cross-sectional study, we have used a multivariate statistical method (multiple correspondence analysis) to categorize the sensory symptom profiles of a cohort of 338 patients with at-level or below-level NP after SCI. We also investigated possible associations between positive neuropathic symptoms and features of the neurological lesion.

Results: The majority of participants had a combination of pain descriptors, with 59% presenting with 3 or 4 pain subtypes. No significant associations were found between specific pain profiles and etiology or clinical degree of the neurological lesion. Furthermore, similar symptom profiles were seen in patients with at-level and below-level NP. The most frequent pattern observed in patients with cervical SCI consisted predominantly of electric shocks and tingling, without burning, pressure pain, or allodynia.

Conclusions: Classification of SCI-NP patients into the 5 groups identified in the present study based on their distinct sensory symptom profiles may allow identification of those most likely to respond to a specific analgesic approach.

*Institut Guttmann Neurorehabilitation Institute

Institute for Health Science Research Germans Trias i Pujol, Carretera Canyet, Badalona

Unit of Infections and Cancer (UNIC), Cancer Epidemiology Research Program (CERP), Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO)—IDI-49 BELL, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Avda Gran Via

§GRAAL, Unit of Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine

Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, and Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Consortium Center for Biomedical Research in Network for Neurodegenerative Disease (CIBERNED), Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

Supported by CIBERESP, CIBERNED, and TERCEL funds from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III of Spain, FEDER funds, and Grant EPIONE (FP7-602547) from the European Commission. This work was partially supported by grants from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III-ISCIII (Spanish Government) cofunded by FEDER funds/European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)—a way to build Europe (References: RD12/0036/0056, PI11/02090) and from the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (2014SGR 756) and RecerCaixa 2015, Barcelona, Spain. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Dolors M. Soler, PhD, Institut Guttmann Neurorehabilitation Hospital, Camí Can Ruti s/n., Badalona 08916, Barcelona, Spain (e-mail:

Received May 31, 2016

Received in revised form January 2, 2017

Accepted December 5, 2016

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