Function-limiting dysesthetic pain syndrome among traumatic spinal cord injury patients: a cross-sectional study

Gary Davidoff*, Elliot Roth, Mary Guarracini, James Sliwa, Gary Yarkony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Diffuse burning dysesthetic sensations distal to the level of spinal injury are the most common and disabling painful sequelae of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). In a cross-sectional study of 19 SCI patients, clinical characteristics and results of 3 validated pain measurement instruments (McGill Pain Questionnaire, Stembach Pain Intensity and Zung Pain and Distress Scale) were used to develop a profile of function-limiting dysesthetic pain sydrome (DPS). Compared to a cohort of 147 patients admitted to the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System during the time period of the study, subjects were more likely to have paraplegia, incomplete sensory myelopathy, gunshot wounds to the spine and non-surgical spinal stabilization. Most patients described the pain as 'cutting,' βurning,' 'piercing,' 'radiating' and 'tight.' The majority of patients located the pain internally and in the lower extremities. Values obtained from 6 McGill Pain Questionnaire subscales, 2 Sternbach Pain Intensity ratings and the Zung Pain and Distress index equalled or exceeded those reported for other pain syndromes. Use of these validated pain measures resulted in a systematic comprehensive assessment of function-limiting DPS following SCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1987


  • Pain
  • Pain measures
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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