Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada have developed clinical practice guidelines for managing neuropathic pain in patients with spinal cord injuries, according to a press release from the institution. The guidelines are published in Spinal Cord.
According to the release, a research team worked with care providers at Parkwood Institute, part of the St. Joseph’s Health Care London network, and an international panel to address the challenges of managing pain during recovery and rehabilitation. Eldon Loh MD, FRCP(C), Lawson researcher and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and his team recognized pain can be an overlooked part of a spinal cord injury and play a major role in rehabilitation. They said as it is difficult for patients in pain to participate fully in their recovery, customized, long-term disability becomes more likely.
“Neuropathic pain — and pain in general — affects every person with a spinal cord injury differently,” Dan Harvey, who sustained a spinal injury after falling off a trampoline and subsequently contributed to the development of the new guidelines, said in the release. “On top of just learning how to use your body again, you also have to deal with various forms of physical pains, which can make it challenging to mentally adapt to an injury.”
According to Loh, the research is “a starting point for us to standardize how we approach pain in the clinic. We have identified gaps and offered recommendations to not only manage the pain, but also ensure that our patients can fully benefit from rehabilitation.”
He added, “For those in hospital following an injury, it is about making sure they can be as independent as possible before discharge. We want to keep pain levels under control so that they are able to live life to the fullest.”
Results of the 3-year process led to recommendations for screening and diagnosis, treatment and models of care. Harvey said he believes the guidelines will have a tremendous impact for patients whose pain may have been overlooked, according to the release.
Disclosure: The researcher report the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and Rick Hansen Institute provided funding for the research study.