Neuropathic pain is much more common than previously suspected. The overall prevalence of neuropathic pain is thought to be approximately 1,765,000 people, excluding those patients with lower back pain radiculopathy (Irving, 2005). If the back pain patients were included, the numbers would be significantly higher at 3,865,000 patients.
The types of neuropathic pain syndromes are generally organized into peripheral neuropathic pain syndromes and central neuropathic pain syndromes. The peripheral neuropathic pain syndromes are further classified into categories, including the following:
■ Painful diabetic neuropathy (600,000 patients)
■ Postherpetic neuralgia (500,000 patients)
■ Cancer associated (200,000 patients)
■ HIV associated (100,000 patients)
■ Phantom limb pain (50,000 patients)
The central neuropathic pain syndromes are further classified into the following categories:
■ Spinal cord injury (120,000 patients)
■ Poststroke (30,000 patients) (Irving, 2005)
Although these numbers seem large, they will continue to grow. War-related injuries to members of the armed services requiring amputations will increase the number of patients with phantom limb pain. The increase in obesity and resultant diabetes will increase the number of patients who have the potential to develop PDN. Additionally, previously unrecognized cases of neuropathic pain will increase the overall number of cases as health care providers become more proficient at assessing and identifying pain as having a neuropathic cause rather than nociceptive pain.
The impact of these syndromes on the lives of the patients who have them is multifaceted. One article that reviewed the impact of neuropathic pain on health-related quality of life reported that the presence and severity of neuropathic pain is associated with the potential for diminished quality of life in several important domains. These included the following:
■ Physical functioning
■ Emotional functioning
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