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Review
, 5 Suppl 1, S9-S27

Comorbidities in Chronic Neuropathic Pain

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Review

Comorbidities in Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Bruce Nicholson et al. Pain Med.

Abstract

Neuropathic pain arises from a lesion or dysfunction within the nervous system; the specific mechanisms that elicit neuropathic pain symptoms are the subject of ongoing research. It is generally acknowledged that neuropathic pain is extremely difficult to treat, and a major factor impacting outcomes is the presence of comorbidities such as poor sleep, depressed mood, and anxiety. Patients who suffer from chronic pain experience difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep. Sleep deprivation has been associated with a decreased pain threshold, muscle aches, and stiffness in normal volunteers. The interrelationship of these factors is complex: Many chronic pain patients are depressed and anxious; sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety; and depression can be both the cause and the result of sleep disturbances. Thus, physicians must evaluate all aspects of pain, sleep, and mood in chronic pain patients. Several instruments have been developed to aid physicians in gathering qualitative and quantitative information from chronic pain patients. This triad of chronic pain, sleep disturbances, and depression/anxiety must be fully addressed if the patient is to be restored to optimal functionality. A multidisciplinary team approach allows for treatment of the whole patient. Nonpharmacologic interventions include relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and cognitive therapy. Strategies for pharmacologic interventions should attempt to maximize outcomes by employing, where possible, agents that address both the pain and the comorbidities. In this way, functionality may be restored and the patient's quality of life improved.

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