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Neurol Sci. 2013 Mar;34(3):373-7. doi: 10.1007/s10072-012-1011-3. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Consistence and discrepancy of neuropathic pain screening tools DN4 and ID-Pain.

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  • 1Don Gnocchi Foundation, Milan, Italy.


Pain is a subjective condition that cannot be objectively measured; for this reason, self patient-perspective is crucial. Recently, several screening tools to discriminate between nociceptive and neuropathic pain have been developed. We aimed at assessing the consistence and discrepancy of two widely used screening tools, The Douleur Neuropathique 4 (DN4) and the 6-item questionnaire (ID-Pain), by comparing their ability in discriminating neuropathic from nociceptive pain. DN4 and ID-Pain were administered to 392 Italian patients attending 16 outpatient services for peripheral nerve diseases. Based on medical history, clinical findings and diagnostic tools, patients were divided into two groups (neuropathic and nociceptive). Globally, ID-Pain identified neuropathic pain in 60 % of patients (38 % probable, 22 % likely). Interestingly also DN4 diagnosed neuropathic pain in 60 % of cases. A discrepancy was observed in 16 % of cases. DN4 and ID-Pain resulted to be highly interrelated in the identification of neuropathic pain. Sensitivity of DN4 was 82 % and specificity was 81 %, while ID-Pain (considering both probable and likely groups) showed sensitivity 78 % and specificity 74 %. Reliable screening tools for neuropathic pain are well related between them; hence, they are available for researchers and clinicians who may choose the most appropriate for their activity. Since the gold standard for the diagnosis and treatment of neuropathic pain cannot do without a neurological evaluation, perhaps DN4, that includes physician objective measures, may help reducing the percentage of dubious cases. Conversely, when needing a more agile tool (not needing a physician) ID-Pain may be adopted.

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