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Comparative Study
, 138 (2), 343-53

Neuropathic Pain: Are There Distinct Subtypes Depending on the Aetiology or Anatomical Lesion?

Comparative Study

Neuropathic Pain: Are There Distinct Subtypes Depending on the Aetiology or Anatomical Lesion?

N Attal et al. Pain.


Neuropathic pain can be caused by a variety of nerve lesions and it is unsettled whether it should be categorised into distinct clinical subtypes depending on aetiology or type of nerve lesion or individualised as a specific group, based on common symptomatology across aetiologies. In this study, we used a multivariate statistical method (multiple correspondence analyses) to investigate associations between neuropathic positive symptoms (assessed with a specific questionnaire, the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory [NPSI]) and aetiologies, types of nerve lesion and pain localisations. We also examined the internal structure of the NPSI and its relevance to evaluation of symptoms of evoked pains by exploring their relationships with clinician-based quantified measures of allodynia and hyperalgesia. This study included 482 consecutive patients (53% men; mean age: 58+/-15 years) with pain associated with peripheral or central lesions. Factor analysis showed that neuropathic symptoms of the NPSI can be categorised into five dimensions. Spearman correlation coefficients indicated that self-reported pain evoked by brush, pressure and cold stimuli strongly correlated to allodynia/hyperalgesia to brush, von Frey hairs and cold stimuli (p<0.0001, n=90). Multiple correspondence analyses indicated few associations between symptoms (or dimensions) and aetiologies, types of lesions, or pain localisations. Exceptions included idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia and postherpetic neuralgia. We found that there are more similarities than differences in the neuropathic positive symptoms associated with a large variety of peripheral and central lesions, providing rationale for subgrouping aetiologically diverse neuropathic patients into a specific multidimensional category for therapeutic management.

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