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Volume 46 Number 1, 2009
   Pages 95 — 108

Abstract - Spinal cord injury pain: Spinal and supraspinal mechanisms

Robert P. Yezierski, PhD

Department of Orthodontics and the Comprehensive Center for Pain Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Abstract — Altered sensations, including pain, are well-documented consequences associated with spinal cord injury (SCI). Although loss of sensory and motor functions at and below the level of injury is commonly thought to affect individuals with SCI most significantly, secondary consequences that include spasticity, bladder and bowel dysfunctions, infertility, and pain rank among the most difficult conditions to deal with following injury. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the condition of pain requires one to appreciate the pathological, physiological, neurochemical, and molecular events associated with injury of the spinal cord parenchyma. Over the past 15 years, a systematic examination related to the pathophysiology, clinical characteristics, and treatment of pain associated with SCI has provided insights into the spinal and supraspinal mechanisms associated with the development of at- and below-level pain. In this review, experimental studies focusing on the spinal and supraspinal mechanisms associated with pain at and below level will be discussed.

Key words: central pain, cortex, excitotoxicity, inflammation, microglia, plasticity, secondary injury, sensitization, signaling pathways, synaptic plasticity, thalamus.


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