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Pain in a
spinal cord injury (SCI) can be complicated and
confusing. There are different types of pain, and they are often described in
different ways. You may feel pain where you have feeling. But you may also feel
pain in an area where otherwise you have no feeling. The pain may be severe at
some times. But at other times it may disappear or bother you only a little.
The most common type of pain experienced with SCI is neuropathic
pain around the injury area. This is also known as the "circle of fire" or the
"ring of fire." Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nervous system.
Other types of pain include musculoskeletal (pain in the bones, muscles, and
joints), and visceral (pain in the abdomen).
Neuropathic pain is caused by
damage to the
nervous system. It is common in SCIs.
Musculoskeletal pain occurs in
the bones, joints, and muscles. Unlike neuropathic pain, movement affects it,
and it is usually made worse by movement and eased with rest. It is often
described as a dull or aching pain.
Visceral pain occurs in the abdomen
(stomach area). The pain can be described as burning, cramping, and constant.
If you have pain, do not ignore it. Talk
to your doctor. You need to know the type of pain and its cause to manage it.
And pain can signal a more serious problem.
February 16, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
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