Polarised views on treating neurogenic pain

Huw T O Davies*, Iain K. Crombie, William A. Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to identify areas of disagreement in the management of neurogenic pain. A short questionnaire was mailed to 179 consultants with an interest in chronic pain (response rate 89%). The questionnaire listed 11 specific conditions involving nerve pain (e.g., post-herpetic neuralgia, causalgia) together with 11 treatments (e.g., antidepressants, neurectomy). Consultants were asked to rate the use of each treatment for each condition as 'appropriate', 'no value or positively harmful' or 'no opinion'. Much disagreement emerged about the value of each therapy for each condition: in almost every instance at least some consultants disagreed with the majority view. The dissenting minority was greater than 20% of those who gave an opinion for 48 of the 121 applications of therapy asked about. The appropriateness of treatments for trigeminal neuralgia, amputation stump pain and phantom pain was most often in dispute and there was little consensus on the value of nerve blocks. There were a few areas of near agreement. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants were mostly identified as appropriate for all the conditions listed and there was some agreement that strong opioids and the neuroablative techniques were appropriate for cancer pressure or infiltration of nerves but, with a few exceptions, of no value for all other neurogenic pain conditions. Divergence of views about treatments may indicate a lack of credible evidence on the value of therapies or a lack of professional knowledge. Where published evidence is clear, the consequences for patients may be under-use of useful therapies or potential iatrogenic harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1993


  • Chronic pain
  • Neurogenic pain
  • Pain treatment


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