The impact of pain in patients with polyneuropathy

Eur J Pain. 2011 Nov;15(10):1015-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 19.


Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is a common impairment which may impact upon quality of life (QoL). Neuropathic pain (NeP) occurs in up to 50% of patients with PN. We hypothesized that disability and impaired quality of life resulting from PN is primarily associated with presence of NeP. Our aim was to determine using prospectively identified PN patients presenting to a tertiary care neuromuscular clinic if presence of NeP (PN+NeP) had greater impact upon QoL than with absence of NeP (PN-NeP). A second aim was to identify if QoL varied based upon etiology of PN. We analyzed neuropathy severity (Toronto Clinical Neuropathy Score (TCSS)), pain quantity and quality (Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) pain score, Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)), QoL and health status measures (EuroQol Instrument 5 Domains (EQ-5D), Medical Outcomes Sleep Study Scale (MOSSS), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36)) and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) to determine impact of NeP. Although both cohorts were epidemiologically similar and had similar severity of PN, PN+NeP patients had considerably greater impairment for QoL, sleep efficacy, and features of anxiety and depression, leading to substantially greater health care resources utilization when compared to PN-NeP patients. The magnitude of NeP severity was the only explaining variable for increased impact upon QoL measures and diminishing overall wellbeing. Our results confirm that NeP is a primary indicator for worsening QoL and diminished overall wellbeing in PN patients. The etiology of PN did not influence levels of NeP-related compromise of QoL. Further studies are needed to determine optimal methods for management of PN+NeP patients subjected to a significant physiological, psychological and functional burden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy
  • Neuralgia / epidemiology*
  • Neuralgia / psychology*
  • Polyneuropathies / epidemiology*
  • Polyneuropathies / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*