Long-term spinal cord injury leads to abdominal pain?
Spinal cord injury arises due to the damage to the spinal cord with symptoms like loss of muscle function, weakness and loss of sensation. It can have a lasting and significant influence on daily life. A study was performed to estimate the prevalence and characteristics of abdominal pain in long-term spinal cord injury (SCI).
In 2006, a questionnaire on chronic abdominal pain and discomfort was sent to 284 members of the Danish SCI association who had been members for at least 10 years. Out of these, 203 responded back. In 2015, almost similar questionnaire with questions on pain intensity and interference within past 7 days, as well as descriptors and treatment, was sent to 178 surviving members.
Total 125 out of 130 (73%) answered the question on chronic abdominal pain. Mean time since the occurrence of the injury was 30.5 (9.8) years. Chronic abdominal pain or discomfort was described by 32.8% (41/125), and 23% (29/125) of responders who had been at least moderately bothered by this in the past week. In the women with self-reported constipation, abdominal pain or discomfort was more common. The median intensity (numeric rating scale), often related to autonomic symptoms was 6.0 (range 3-10). Nine (8%) of 115 individuals who responded in both 2006 and 2015 had progressed new abdominal pain or discomfort, 30 (26%) no longer reported it, and 28 (24%) reported it at both time points with a comparable intensity.
Therefore, it can be culminated from this study that chronic abdominal pain or discomfort is common and bothersome in long-term SCI. But, its prevalence and severity do not seem to further increase between 20 and 30 years after SCI although it has a late onset.