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Pain. 2008 Jul 31;137(3):681-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2008.03.002. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Incidence rates and treatment of neuropathic pain conditions in the general population.

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  • 1Department of Medical Informatics, Erasmus MC, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Incidence rate estimates of neuropathic pain are scanty and mostly address single types whereas the scope of the disease is wide. We aimed to calculate the incidence rates of neuropathic pain conditions in the Dutch general population and to assess treatment strategies in primary care. The study population included persons registered for at least one year in the Integrated Primary Care Information (IPCI) database between 1996 and 2003. Neuropathic pain was ascertained and classified by systematic review of computerized longitudinal medical records. Incidence rates (IR) were calculated, and the treatment for pain was compared to age and gender matched controls. Among 362,693 persons contributing 1,116,215 person years (PY), we identified 9135 new cases of neuropathic pain (IR: 8.2/1000 PY, 95%CI: 8.0-8.4). Mononeuropathy and carpal tunnel syndrome were the most frequent types with 4.3 and 2.3 cases/1000 PY followed by diabetic peripheral neuropathy and post-herpetic neuralgia at 0.72 and 0.42/1000 PY. Neuropathic pain was 63% more common in women than in men and peaked between the ages 70 and 79. More than 50% of cases received pain medication within 6 months after diagnosis, mostly consisting of NSAIDs or aspirin. Anticonvulsants and tricyclic antidepressants were only used by 4.8 and 4.7% of cases. Neuropathic pain is a rather frequent condition with an annual incidence of almost 1% of the general population and affecting women and middle-aged persons more often. The treatment mostly consisted of regular analgesics suggesting that pharmacological treatment of neuropathic pain is suboptimal.

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