Neuropathic Pain and Sickle Cell Disease: a Review of Pharmacologic Management

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2020 Jul 24;24(9):52. doi: 10.1007/s11916-020-00885-5.


Purpose of review: Sickle cell disease (SCD) remains among the most common and severe monogenic disorders present in the world today. Although sickle cell pain has been traditionally characterized as nociceptive, a significant portion of sickle cell patients has reported neuropathic pain symptoms. Our review article will discuss clinical aspects of SCD-related neuropathic pain, epidemiology of neuropathic pain among individuals with SCD, pain mechanisms, and current and future potential pharmacological interventions.

Recent findings: Neuropathic pain in SCD is a complicated condition that often has a lifelong and significant negative impact on life; therefore, improved pain management is considered a significant and unmet need. Neuropathic pain mechanisms are heterogeneous, and the difficulty in determining their individual contribution to specific pain types may contribute to poor treatment outcomes in this population. Our review article outlines several pharmacological modalities which may be employed to treat neuropathic pain in SCD patients.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Neuropathic pain; Pharmacologic management; Sickle cell disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia / complications
  • Neuralgia / etiology*
  • Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome