LONDON, ONTATIO – Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute are the first in Canada to develop clinical practice guidelines for managing neuropathic pain with patients who have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI).
Neuropathic pain is complex and chronic, and is the most common complication reported by people following SCI. The research team worked with care providers at Parkwood Institute, part of the St. Joseph’s Health Care London family, and an international panel to address the complex and unique challenges for managing pain during recovery and rehabilitation.
In 2003, Dan Harvey sustained a spinal injury after falling off a trampoline. Using his personal experience, as well as his experiences meeting with newly injured people, Harvey contributed to the development of the new guidelines.
“Neuropathic pain – and pain in general – affects every person with a spinal cord injury very differently. Some people have it, some people don’t. But for those who do have it, it can make rehabilitation and recovery much more difficult,” explains Harvey. “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.”
For those with chronic pain, it may be hard to just get out of bed in the morning, feel well enough to leave the house, or even fall asleep. “I have fairly extensive neuropathic pain, so I’m well aware of how difficult it can be to get a full night’s sleep, or show attentiveness at work or at school when it literally feels like your legs are on fire,” says Harvey.
Dr. Eldon Loh, Lawson Researcher and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist at St. Joseph’s, and his team recognized that pain can be an overlooked part of a spinal cord …