Neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury: What we know about mechanisms, assessment and management

Roberto D'Angelo, A. Morreale, V. Donadio, S. Boriani, N. Maraldi, G. Plazzi, R. Liguori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: In biology, it is easy to understand how a damaged functional system may generate wrong signals, but why this should happen when the system is disconnected is less clear. For this reason, among other pain syndromes, neuropathic pain (NP) following spinal cord injury (SCI) leaves most questions unanswered. AIMS AND METHODS: Our purpose is to review current knowledge on NP after SCI, focusing on the mechanisms, assessment and management of the syndrome. RESULTS: The mechanisms responsible for NP following SCI are poorly understood: NP is classically considered a "central pain syndrome" but recent evidence from experimental models reveals a possible "peripheral sensitization". Assessment of NP following SCI is well-established: in addition to clinical evaluation and self-reported scales, many neurophysiological, radiological and microscopic investigations may be performed. The management of NP following SCI is very difficult: evidence of effective drugs is lacking and alternative new treatment approaches yield different outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Recently clinical and instrumental tools have increased our knowledge on NP, suggesting that the discovery of new treatment agents will depend on an explanation of what changes after SCI: future research must point in this direction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3257-3261
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Volume17
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Central sensitization
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Peripheral sensitization
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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