Chronic neuropathic pain: Mechanisms, diagnosis, and treatment

R. Norman Harden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Background: The management of chronic pain represents a significant public health issue in the United States. It is both costly to our health care system and devastating to the patient's quality of life. The need to improve pain outcomes is reflected by the congressional declaration of the present decade as the "Decade of Pain Control and Research," and the acknowledgment in January 2001 of pain as the "fifth vital sign" by the Joint Commission of Healthcare Organizations. Review Summary: At present, therapeutic options are largely limited to drugs approved for other conditions, including anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antiarrhythmics, and opioids. However, treatment based on the underlying disease state (eg, postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy) may be less than optimal, in that 2 patients with the same neuropathic pain syndrome may have different symptomatology and thus respond differently to the same treatment. Increases in our understanding of the function of the neurologic system over the last few years have led to new insights into the mechanisms underlying pain symptoms, especially chronic and neuropathic pain. Conclusions: The rapidly evolving symptom- and mechanism-based approach to the treatment of neuropathic pain holds promise for improving the quality of life of our patients with neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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