Pain is a common symptom for people who have a spinal cord injury. Some of the many injuries associated with the spinal cord are resistant to the available therapies, which can mean that the person is subjected to pain for the rest of their life.
Trying to find a treatment that provides the most relief is done via trial and error. Sometimes, it involves many different types of management. This can include medication, thermal treatments, complimentary techniques and other options.
What types of pain are possible?
One of the common types of pain for a person with a spinal cord injury is neuropathy, which is a pain centered in the nerves. It is caused by the reorganization of the nervous system that occurs when the spinal cord suffers damage. Chemical changes in the body can also contribute to the problem. Unfortunately, neuropathy is one of the more difficult types of pain to relieve.
Another type of pain is mechanical, which is the common muscle pain that comes with physical exertion. For a person who has a spinal cord injury, this is often due to having to challenge working muscles to handle daily tasks. It can also occur during transfers to and from beds, chairs and other equipment. Over time, this pain might lessen as the muscles become stronger.
Some people experience psychological pain. This is actual pain, but there is likely an emotional connection to it. People might experience this because of stress and anxiety. It is often a worsening of pain they are already feeling.
Deafferentation pain is also possible. While other forms of pain can manifest right away after the injury, this one is delayed. It seems to be related to the recovery of the spinal cord. People with this type of pain will feel aching, tingling or burning below the location of the spinal cord injury.
How can patients cope with the pain?
Coping methods vary, but they usually include several different things. Medication management is often a primary method. Patients can also use things like stretching, mobility aids, massage therapy, TENS units, implanted devices, acupuncture, surgery, Botox, nerve blocks and deep brain stimulation. They will sometimes work closely with a pain management doctor to find the most appropriate options.
Unfortunately, the pain from a spinal cord injury might impact the person’s ability to work. This compounds an already difficult financial situation. Seeking compensation for the damages associated with the injury might help to reduce the monetary difficulty that the patient faces.