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Papers: 9 Apr 2022 - 15 Apr 2022

2022 Apr 10

J Pain

Should non-pharmacological and non-surgical interventions be used to manage neuropathic pain in adults with spinal cord injury? – a systematic review.


Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) results in a permanent or temporary alteration of the motor, sensory and/or autonomic functions, frequently leading to neuropathic pain. To deal with this comorbidity, several non-pharmacological and non-surgical (NP-NS) interventions have been developed. However, their efficacy is still uncertain. The aim of this study was to systematically synthetize the available evidence assessing the efficacy of NP-NS interventions for treating neuropathic pain in people with SCI. Thus, an electronic search was conducted in five databases (Pubmed, Scopus, Cochrane Central, Web of Science and EBSCO) and trials registry databases, in addition to a manual search strategy to retrieve additional records. The review included randomized controlled trials with adults with SCI, in any stage of the condition. Data on the efficacy of the interventions was narratively synthetized. Once the research was completed, of 4853 identified references, 24 were included with a total of 653 participants with SCI and neuropathic pain, mostly male and with paraplegia. These studies investigated the effect of 13 types of NP-NS interventions with different protocols and methodological limitations. Seven different assessment scales were analyzed, with neuropathic pain being the primary outcome in 21 studies. Such high heterogeneity impaired the conduction of meta-analysis for any of the interventions. Although promising results were found regarding analgesic effect of NP-NS on neuropathic pain in people with SCI, it is not yet possible to safely state that these interventions are in fact effective. Further studies with homogeneous protocols and methodological quality are still needed. PERSPECTIVE: : This article presents a review of existing studies on the effectiveness of NP-NS interventions in neuropathic pain in SCI. This synthesis could potentially alert and motivate clinicians to develop studies on this topic, so that interventions can be objectively evaluated and recommendations for an evidence-based practice be created.