Assessment of pain quality in chronic neuropathic and nociceptive pain clinical trials with the Neuropathic Pain Scale

J Pain. 2005 Feb;6(2):98-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2004.11.002.


Although a number of measures of pain qualities exist, little research has examined the potential for these measures to identify the unique effects of pain treatments on different pain qualities. We examined the utility of the Neuropathic Pain Scale (NPS) for assessing changes in pain qualities after open label lidocaine patch 5% in 3 samples of patients: patients with peripheral neuropathic pain, low back pain, and osteoarthritis. With one exception ("cold" pain in subjects with low back pain), each of the NPS items showed significant change after open label lidocaine patch. In addition, significantly larger changes were observed for the NPS items reflecting global pain intensity and pain unpleasantness and for items assessing sharp and deep pain than for items assessing cold, sensitive, and itchy pain. The pattern of changes in pain qualities did not differ across the 3 diagnostic groups, but it did differ from the patterns of changes in pain qualities associated with other analgesic treatments. The results support the potential utility of the NPS for assessing the patterns of changes in pain qualities that can be observed after pain treatment.

Perspective: Pain clinical trials that include measures of pain qualities, such as the NPS, might identify distinct patterns of treatment effects on those pain qualities. This research might be used to help clinicians target analgesics to match the specific qualities associated with a patient's pain and to better understand the mechanisms of analgesic effects in drug development programs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / diagnosis*
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy
  • Nociceptors
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Pain Measurement / methods*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine