Referred sensations and neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury

M. D. Soler, H. Kumru, J. Vidal, R. Pelayo, J. M. Tormos, F. Fregni, X. Navarro, A. Pascual-Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It has been proposed that painful and non-painful referred sensations (RSs) are associated with reorganization of sensory pathways in patients with complete spinal cord injury (SCI). In order to investigate the referred sensation (RS) phenomenon and its correlation with neuropathic pain (NP) 48 patients with complete SCI, 24 with chronic NP and 24 without pain or paraesthesias were studied using clinical examination and neurophysiological tests. Patients reporting RSs were re-examined at 2 and 10 weeks after the first examination. We defined the presence of RS as sensations perceived below the injury level in response to touch and pinprick stimuli in various body points above the injury level. The examination was carried out by one researcher applying the stimuli to the patient under two visual conditions (open and closed eyes), and then asking the patient to make tactile self-stimulation. Seven patients with SCI and NP (29%) reported RS below the injury level. RS were well located and consistently evoked at repeated examinations. Touch and pinprick stimulation elicited similar RS that were non-painful in six patients and painful in one. Visual feedback did not change RS perception and characteristics. None of the patients in the SCI group without NP presented RS. In conclusion, our results indicate that RS is relatively frequent in patients with complete SCI and NP. The common occurrence of RS in patients with NP and the location of the sensations in the same area as NP suggest that pain and RS share common pathophysiological mechanisms. © 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-198
JournalPain
Volume150
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Neuropathic pain
  • Referred sensation
  • Spinal cord injury

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