This is a revision of guidelines, originally published in 2004, for the assessment of patients with neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is defined as pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system either at peripheral or central level.
Screening questionnaires are suitable for identifying potential patients with neuropathic pain, but further validation of them is needed for epidemiological purposes. Clinical examination, including accurate sensory examination, is the basis of neuropathic pain diagnosis. For more accurate sensory profiling, quantitative sensory testing is recommended for selected cases in clinic, including the diagnosis of small fiber neuropathies and for research purposes. Measurement of trigeminal reflexes mediated by A-beta fibers can be used to differentiate symptomatic trigeminal neuralgia from classical trigeminal neuralgia.
Measurement of laser-evoked potentials is useful for assessing function of the A-delta fiber pathways in patients with neuropathic pain. Functional brain imaging is not currently useful for individual patients in clinical practice, but is an interesting research tool. Skin biopsy to measure the intraepidermal nerve fiber density should be performed in patients with clinical signs of small fiber dysfunction.
The intensity of pain and treatment effect (both in clinic and trials) should be assessed with numerical rating scale or visual analog scale. For future neuropathic pain trials, pain relief scales, patient and clinician global impression of change, the proportion of responders (50% and 30% pain relief), validated neuropathic pain quality measures and assessment of sleep, mood, functional capacity and quality of life are recommended. (C) 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.