Neuropathic Pain

“Pain is a major health problem. Chronic and recurring pain is a specific health problem and some conditions can reasonably be considered a disease itself” (1)

An estimated 7-10% of the population suffering from neuropathic pain. The Italian population has a prevalence of chronic pain of 21,7%, which corrresponds to approximately 13 millions inhabitants (2). It is therefore a problem of relevant importance, with a significant impact on the person. Neuropathic pain is associated with others conditions as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and reduced quality of life. (3).

Neuropathic pain is a painful feeling of chronic nature that arises as a result of damage of:

  • nerves of the Peripheral Nervous System
  • structures constituting the Central Nervous System

Diabetes, Herpes-Zoster virus infection and compression of peripheral nerves are the main causes of neuropathic pain. It arises as burning pain associated with a particular sensitivity to painful stimuli (hyperalgesia and allodynia); moreover, tingling and numbness occur in the affected area (paraesthesia).

The diagnosis of neuropathic pain is usually based on a medical history, thorough physical examination, and an electromyography. It is essential to correctly identify the origin of the pain in order to set up the most appropriate therapy.

The assessment of a subjective experience such as pain is carried out using tools validated by the scientific community, such as the VAS scale (Visual Analogue Scale) and NPRS (Numeric Pain Rating Scale).

Since damaged nerves cannot usually be repaired, the treatment of neuropathic pain is based on medications that help symptoms control.

  2. Aprile2012,Vol.103, N.4 Recenti Prog Med 2012;103(4):133-141doi 10.1701/1068.11703
  3. Van Hecke O, Austin SK, Khan RA, Smith BH, Torrance N. Neuropathic pain in the general population: a systematic review of epidemiological studies [published correction appears in Pain. 2014 Sep;155(9):1907]. Pain. 2014;155(4):654-662. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2013.11.013)

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