Background: Although there is increasing knowledge of the prevalence of neuropathic pain, little has been done to isolate the cost of neuropathic pain, especially with reference to the frequent complaint of back pain.
Aims: To estimate the prevalence of neuropathic components in back pain and associated costs.
Methods: We used available epidemiological data to model the prevalence of neuropathic back pain in the general adult population, combining three studies: painDETECT 1, painDETECT 2, and the German back pain research network (GBPRN) study, representing a total of 21,047 subjects. The painDETECT screening questionnaire was used in the former two surveys to assess neuropathic pain components. Costing data were obtained from 1718 participants in the GBPRN survey.
Results: According to our model, approximately 4% of the general adult population experienced back pain with a neuropathic component. Owing to the greater severity of neuropathic pain, its costs were found to be disproportionately high: among patients with persistent back pain, typical costs associated with a person suffering neuropathic back pain were higher than those of an average back pain patient, and as much as 67% higher than those of a patient with nociceptive back pain only. Approximately, 16% of the total costs associated with back pain were attributable to pain with a neuropathic component.
Conclusions: Back pain with neuropathic components is likely to affect a relevant proportion of the general adult population and cause a disproportionately high share of back pain-related costs.