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Eur J Pain. 2002;6 Suppl A:47-50.

Neuropathic pain: clinical characteristics and diagnostic workup.

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  • 1Neurogenic Pain Unit, Multidisciplinary Pain Center, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Karolinska Hospital/Institute, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.


Neuropathic pain is part of the neurological disease spectrum and may be an expression of severe medical pathology. Painful neuropathies have multiple disguises and may to a certain extent be mimicked by non-neurological pain conditions. Painful neuropathic conditions express themselves with spontaneous and/or abnormal stimulus-evoked pain. The diagnosis of peripheral or central neuropathic pain should be made only when the history and signs are indicative of neuropathy in conjunction with neuroanatomically correlated pain distribution and sensory abnormalities within the area of pain. A future mechanism-based classification of pain has recently been suggested to facilitate the development of mechanism-tailored treatment strategies. This is a sound approach and should be pursued. It is mandatory, however, to retain the traditional organ-based diagnostic workup, which should precede further in-depth characterization of specific pain mechanisms. Extensive preparatory work is needed on how to link certain symptoms and signs to specific mechanisms, as elucidated from animal studies, before we can introduce mechanism-coupled treatment strategies.

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