Pain severity and mobility one year after spinal cord injury: A multicenter, cross-sectional study

Bianca F. Marcondes, Shruti Sreepathi, Justin Markowski, Dung Nguyen, Shannon R. Stock, Sandra Carvalho, Denise Tate, Ross Zafonte, Leslie R. Morse, Felipe Fregni

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11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Following a spinal cord injury, patients are often burdened by chronic pain. Preliminary research points to activation of the motor cortex through increased mobility as a potential means of alleviating postinjury chronic pain.AIM: The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between pain severity and mobility among patients who have sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury while controlling for clinically-relevant covariates.DESIGN: Amulti-center, cross-sectional study.SETTING: The SCIMSis composed of 14 centers, all located in the United States and funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).POPULATION: The study cohort included 1980 patients who completed the one-year SCIMSfollow-up assessment between October 2000-December 2013.METHODS: Amulti-center, cross-sectional study was performed to assess the impact of mobility on self-reported pain using information from 1980 subjects who sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury and completed a year-one follow-up interview between October 2000 and December 2013. Patient information was acquired using the Spinal Cord Injury National Database, compiled by the affiliated Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems. Analyses included a multivariable linear regression of patients' self-reported pain scores on mobility, quantified using the CHART-SF mobility total score, and other clinically relevant covariates.RESULTS: After controlling for potential confounders, a significant quadratic relationship between mobility and patients' self-reported pain was observed (P=0.016). Furthermore, female gender, "unemployed" occupational status, paraplegia, and the presence of depressive symptoms were associated with significantly higher pain scores (P<0.02 for all variables). Statistically significant quadratic associations between pain scores and age at injury, life satisfaction total score, and the CHART-SF occupational total subscale were also observed (P≤0.03 for all variables).CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with moderate to high levels of mobility, pain scores decreased with increasing mobility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-636
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

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  • Pain
  • Psychomotor performance
  • Spinal cord injuries


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