Neuropathic pain is under-recognised and therefore undertreated. Most patients require a meticulous history and detailed examination so that a cause can be sought. Treatment is relatively straightforward and includes regular analgesics and adjuvant agents.
- Neuropathic pain has recently been defined as pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system.
- Neuropathic pain is under-recognised and therefore undertreated.
- Most forms of neuropathic pain are due to sensitisation of neurons in the central pathways. This sensitisation is normally associated with the transmission of noxious stimuli.
- Treatment is largely empirical with no clear evidence for selective benefits of medications on spontaneous and stimulus-evoked pain.
- The main treatments of neuropathic pain are adjuvant analgesics, mainly those from antidepressant and antiepileptic drug classes. Regular opioid analgesics also result in improvement in some patients.
- Outcomes are often unsatisfactory in patients with severe persistent pain. These patients may benefit from specialist referral.