Symptoms and signs in patients with suspected neuropathic pain

Pain. 2004 Jul;110(1-2):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2004.04.034.


The study sought to determine if symptoms and signs cluster differentially in groups of patients with increasing evidence of neuropathic pain (NP). We prospectively looked at symptoms and signs in 214 patients with suspected chronic NP of moderate to severe intensity. According to a set of clinical criteria the patients were a priori classified as having the so-called 'Definite NP' (n = 91), 'Possible NP' (n = 71), or 'Unlikely NP' (n = 52). A recording of symptoms including pain descriptors, intensity of five categories of pain, Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, and Major Depression Inventory were done. Sensory tests including repetitive pinprick stimulation, examination for cold-evoked pain by an acetone drop and brush-evoked pain were carried out in the maximal pain area and in a control area. High intensity of superficial ongoing pain, and touch or cold provoked pain was associated with chronic pain classified as definite or possible neuropathic. Intensity of deep ongoing pain, and 'paroxysms' was similar in the three groups. Brush-evoked pain was more frequent in definite NP. The McGill Pain Questionnaire and the used pain descriptors could not distinguish between the three clinical categories. Although certain symptoms (touch or cold provoked pain) and signs (brush-evoked allodynia) are more prominent in patients with definite or possible NP, we found considerable overlap with the clinical presentation of patients with unlikely NP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / classification
  • Hyperalgesia / diagnosis
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neuralgia / classification
  • Neuralgia / complications
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology*
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology