BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: To determine the degree and duration of pain relief provided by specific pain treatments used by individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who have chronic pain. DESIGN: Postal survey. SETTING: Community. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 117 individuals who had traumatic SCI, were 18 years of age or older, and reported a chronic pain problem. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Questions assessing current or past use of 26 different pain treatments, the amount of relief each treatment provided, and the length of time that any pain relief usually lasts. RESULTS: The medications tried most often were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (tried by 71%) and acetaminophen (tried by 70%); these medications were still being used by more than one half of the patients who had tried them. Opioids produced the greatest degree of pain relief on average (mean, 6.27 +/- 3.05 [SD] on a 0-10 scale, with 0 = no relief and 10 = complete relief) but were unlikely to be continued by those who tried them. Although 38% of respondents with pain had tried gabapentin, only 17% were still using it, and average pain relief was only moderate (mean, 3.32 +/- 3.03 on the 0-10 relief scale). Seventy-three percent of the respondents had tried at least 1 of 7 alternative pain treatments, and the most frequently tried were massage, marijuana, and acupuncture. The most relief was provided by massage (mean, 6.05 +/- 2.47] on the 0-10 relief scale) and marijuana (mean, 6.62 +/- 2.54 on the 0-10 relief scale). The relief from the various treatments, including most medications, tended to last only minutes or hours; however, pain relief from alternative treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis was reported to last for days in 25% to 33% of those who tried these treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Many patients are not finding adequate pain relief from commonly prescribed medications. Alternative therapies should be considered as additional treatment options in this population.