What is Neuropathic Pain? (Web Illustration)

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Neuropathic pain is common in individuals with SCI, but what is it and why does it happen? In this web illustration we give a brief answer to both those questions and will leave you ready to do a deeper dive on the subject.

Continue learning more on SCIRE Community’s page on pain after SCI.

Script by Ana-Maria Oproescu, Art by Adam Mesa.

Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage directly to the nervous system (the nerves, spinal cord, and brain).As a result, painful stimuli can become even more painful (hyperalgesia) and non-painful stimuli can begin to become painful (allodynia).It's estimated that >50% of individuals with SCI have neuropathic pain. Like all pain, it's quite disruptive to live with. But why does it happen?It's currently believed to be caused by increased activity of Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) neurons. Current pharmacological therapies include anticonvulsants. Unfortunately they don't work for everyone and even when they do work, they don't fully resolve neuropathic pain.Current research is focused on finding reliable, objective ways to measure neuropathic pain. This will help complement subjectivity in pain reporting!ICORD's Kramer lab recently showed that heat stimulation can be used to track changes in neuropathic pain.In the study, participants rated the pain level of an uncomfortable tonic heat stimulus over time. Their ratings correspond with changes in intensity of neuropathic pain.

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