Epidemiology of Refractory Neuropathic Pain


Rod S. Taylor, MSc, PhD, Department of Public Health & Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, U.K. Tel: +44 121 414 2704; Fax: +44 121 414 7878; E-mail: r.s.taylor@bham.ac.uk.


Abstract:  Although neuropathic pain can be acute in nature, in most patients the pain is persistent (or “refractory”). Patients with chronic neuropathic pain are seen most often in clinical practice. It consists of a number of different disease-specific indications, each of which can have differing diagnostic definitions and cutoffs. Consequently, it is difficult to estimate precisely the prevalence and incidence of neuropathic pain. The limited currently available epidemiological literature is reviewed in this article. The burden of neuropathic pain on patients and healthcare systems appears to be potentially large, with an estimated prevalence of 1.5%. Patients with neuropathic pain experience a poor health-related quality of life and consume a high level of healthcare resources, and costs. The future prioritization by healthcare policy makers for neuropathic pain treatment funding requires further data to clarify its epidemiology, the burden on the health of patients, and the demand on healthcare budgets.