The present study was undertaken to assess the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and burden of illness due to pain and its treatment for patients with peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP). It is the first step in finding reliable instruments/targets to evaluate treatment outcome in this patient population. Study population consisted of 126 patients suffering from neuropathic pain due to a peripheral nerve or root lesion, recruited from two multidisciplinary pain clinics. HRQoL was examined using Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey and Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). Pain intensity in four categories (at rest and evoked by movement, touch and cold) was rated on a visual analogue scale (VAS). Degree of discomfort from pain and 25 symptoms related to pain and side-effects was also assessed. Reduction in workload due to pain was recorded, as was the pain relief from previous and current treatments and the reasons for discontinuing previous treatments. All dimensions in SF-36 and NHP were significantly impaired. SF-36 was a valid instrument for describing the impact of pain on the HRQoL of patients with PNP. NHP had a lower reliability but has other advantages that might be of importance. Many patients experienced poor pain relief from ongoing pain treatments. Most previous treatments were discontinued owing to lack of efficacy and/or severe side-effects. Many patients experienced a high intensity of at least one type of pain; median VAS for the highest pain intensity score of each patient (any type of pain) was 74/100. Besides pain, patients were most bothered by difficulty in sleeping, lack of energy, drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating and dry mouth. Employment status was reduced owing to pain in 52% of the patients. The intense pain, other troublesome symptoms, limited efficacy and tolerability of available treatments, together with the impaired health and reduced work status, amount to a substantial burden for patients with PNP.
Copyright 2001 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain.