Neuropathic pain (NeuP) is defined as pain that arises as a ‘direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system’.
1 Importantly, NeuP differs from nociceptive pain in respect of causes, mechanisms, symptomatology and different therapeutic approaches required for successful management. The burden of NeuP for the patient is substantial. NeuP is associated with psychological distress, physical disability and reduced overall quality of life.
2-5 A systematic review and meta-analysis by Doth et al.
6 showed lower health-utility scores in patients with NeuP than the general population and in people with other chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, motor neurone disease, cancer, and stroke. Patients with peripheral NeuP are generally affected by difficulty in sleeping, lack of energy, drowsiness, and difficulty in concentrating.
7 The problem is further compounded by the fact that globally, and in South Africa, NeuP is often underdiagnosed and inappropriately treated, exacerbating the burden of this already debilitating condition.