The prevalence and impact of chronic pain with neuropathic pain symptoms in the general population

Pain Med. 2009 Jul-Aug;10(5):918-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2009.00655.x. Epub 2009 Jul 6.


Objective: We performed a prevalence estimate of chronic pain with neuropathic pain (NeP) symptoms to determine its frequency and associations with morbidity.

Design: We conducted a telephone-based survey based upon a random sampling of both urban and rural households of the general population in one Canadian province to determine NeP prevalence and its impact upon financial well-being and quality of life.

Outcome measures: Telephonic use of the DN4 questionnaire (DN4Q), used to identify NeP symptoms in those patients with chronic pain, was validated within selected clinical populations of chronic pain. Epidemiological data was obtained for all subjects. EuroQoL (EQ)-5D data estimating quality of life was measured.

Results: Chronic pain was present in 35.0% of the surveyed population of 1,207 subjects, with NeP symptoms present in 17.9%. The NeP group had significantly more pain, was female predominant, had a greater belief of being economically disadvantaged, suffered from more restrictions in mobility and in usual activities, and had overall lower EQ-5D utility scores compared with subjects with non-NeP. DN4Q validation demonstrated that pain entities not normally defined as NeP are recorded as such using the DN4Q, and that a spectrum of NeP features may occur across a host of painful conditions.

Conclusion: Despite limitations of the DN4Q, symptoms of NeP may be more prevalent in the general population than expected and has a greater impact upon patients' lives than non-NeP. Limitations of the DN4Q may relate to the concept of a spectrum of NeP existent amongst heterogenous NeP and non-NeP syndromes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult