Content » Vol 42, Issue 4

Short communication

Pain, Especially neuropathic pain, in adults with spina bifida, and its relation to age, neurological level, completeness, gender and hydrocephalus

Lars Werhagen , Claes Hultling, Kristian Borg
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0529


Study design: Cohort study.
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of neuropathic pain in adults with spina bifida, to study the relationship between neuropathic pain, age at examination, gender, completeness of injury, neurological level and presence of hydrocephalus.
Methods: A total of 110 patients with spina bifida who visited the spinal cord injury outpatient clinic Spinalis were included. At the yearly check-up they underwent examination by a physiotherapist and a neurologist and were interviewed about pain character, temporal profile and localization. The patients were divided into 2 groups; spina bifida with (n = 57) and without hydrocephalus (n = 53). Pain was classified as neuropathic when it was in an area of decreased sensibility and had no correlation to movement and/or inflammatory signs. Results were analysed by χ2 analysis and Fisher’s exact test.
Results: Twenty-two patients (20%) experienced nociceptive pain. Neuropathic pain was present in 11/110 (10%) patients, of these 62% experienced below level neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain was present in 13% of male patients and 7% of female patients, 12% of patients with a lumbar level and 10% of patients with a thoracic level. Neuropathic pain was present in 9% of patients with a complete spinal cord injury, 14% of those with an incomplete spinal cord injury, 1,7% with hydrocephalus and 19% without hydrocephalus.
Conclusion: The results suggest that neuropathic pain is present in spina bifida. Careful analysis and classification of a patient’s pain is clinically important. Neuropathic pain is more common in patients without hydrocephalus and in older patients. Presence of neuropathic pain was not related to gender, completeness of injury, or neurological level.

Lay Abstract


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