Epidemiology is an important clinical tool in designing and evaluating management and prevention strategies, and is particularly relevant to neuropathic pain. However, there is a relative lack of accurate information available. In one sense, neuropathic pain describes a symptom or a mechanism, rather than a specific disease; on the other hand, there are sufficient similarities in the effects and response to treatment between different causes to make it worthwhile to consider neuropathic pain as a distinct condition. However, there are important specific disease-based factors that need to be considered separately. Estimates of prevalence that are based on specific causes of neuropathic pain tend to be lower (1-2%) than those that are based on reports of the classic symptoms (6-8%), and further methodological research is needed. All neuropathic pain is associated with poor general health, comparable with other severe chronic diseases. The importance of newly proposed risk factors, including genetic factors, still needs to be assessed at a population level. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.