Impact of postherpetic neuralgia and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy on health care costs

J Pain. 2010 Apr;11(4):360-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.08.005. Epub 2009 Oct 22.


Knowledge of the health care costs associated with neuropathic pain is limited. Existing studies have not directly compared the health care costs of different neuropathic pain conditions, and patients with neuropathic pain have not been compared with control subjects with the same underlying conditions (for example, diabetes). To determine health care costs associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), patients with these conditions were selected from 2 different administrative databases of health care claims and respectively matched to control subjects who had a diagnosis of herpes zoster without persisting pain or a diagnosis of diabetes without neurological complications using propensity scores for demographic and clinical factors. Total excess health care costs attributable to PHN and painful DPN and excess costs for inpatient care, outpatient/professional services, and pharmacy expenses were calculated. The results indicated that the annual excess health care costs associated with peripheral neuropathic pain in patients of all ages range from approximately $1600 to $7000, depending on the specific pain condition. Total excess health care costs associated with painful DPN were substantially greater than those associated with PHN, which might reflect the great medical comorbidity associated with DPN.

Perspective: The data demonstrate that the health care costs associated with 1 peripheral neuropathic pain condition cannot be extrapolated to other neuropathic pain conditions. The results also increase understanding of the economic burden of PHN and painful DPN and provide a basis for evaluating the impact on health care costs of new interventions for their treatment and prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics / economics
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / economics*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / therapy*
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Herpes Zoster / economics
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology
  • Herpes Zoster / therapy
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia, Postherpetic / economics*
  • Neuralgia, Postherpetic / epidemiology
  • Neuralgia, Postherpetic / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Analgesics