Important notice

The information contained in this section is intended only for the health professional authorised to prescribe or dispense medicinal products for which specialised training is required for proper interpretation. If you do not belong to this group, please refrain from continuing.

I declare I am a health professional with prescribing or dispensing capacity in Spain.

Neuropathic pain

share, link, spread

Neuropathic pain is caused by a physical or functional injury in the pain transmission pathways (nerves) at any site in the nervous system.

The exact prevalence of neuropathic pain is not known. In Europe, around 20% of the population suffers from chronic pain, and 7-8% suffers from predominantly neuropathic pain, with an annual prevalence of almost 1% of the population.

Depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are also significantly more prevalent in patients with neuropathic pain when compared to other types of pain.

Neuropathic pain: characteristics

Neuropathic pain has some differential characteristics in comparison with somatic pain:

Diagnosis of neuropathic pain

The diagnosis of neuropathic pain is essentially clinical and is made using the medical history and a neurological examination.

Since pain is, by definition, a subjective symptom, the application of pain assessment scales, such as the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), is very useful. A detailed neurological examination, including a careful assessment of sensitivity, is also necessary. Further examinations will be aimed at detecting the underlying lesion of the neuropathic pain, if possible.

Causes of neuropathic pain

Some of the most common causes of neuropathic pain are: diabetic neuropathy, herpes Zoster (postherpetic neuralgia) and direct trauma to the nerves, such as possible post-surgical sequelae.

Neuropathic pain can also coexist with other types of pain, such as lower back pain associated with radiculopathies or musculoskeletal diseases.

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur as a consequence of diabetes. High blood glucose levels can damage nerves throughout the body. Diabetic neuropathy largely affects the nerves in the legs and feet.

Diabetic neuropathy is a frequent and serious complication of diabetes. It affects more than 50% of diabetic patients after twenty years of evolution of the disease.

However, development can generally be prevented or delayed by strict controls on blood sugar levels and a healthy lifestyle.

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It first affects the feet and legs, followed by the hands and arms. In general, the signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy worsen at night. The main symptoms are the following:

Neuropathic pain treatment

Adequate pain assessment and diagnosis are critical to successfully treating neuropathic pain. Furthermore, identifying and simultaneously managing depression, anxiety and sleep disorders, which affect the quality of life of the patient, is also important.

The groups of drugs with the clearest evidence for managing neuropathic pain include neuroanalgesics, such as capsaicin, antidepressants, neuromodulators or gabapentinoids, opioids, and anticonvulsants.

On the other hand, non-pharmacological measures such as stress reduction, good sleep or physical therapy should also be considered.


Our website uses our own cookies and those of third parties in order to customise browsing, and in order to improve your services by analysing the users surfing habits. By continuing to browse, you agree to use it in accordance with our Cookies Policy. AQUI

Required for technical reasons