Why use a pain clinic? Management of neurogenic pain before and after referral

H. T.O. Davies*, I. K. Crombie, W. A. Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Pain arising from damage or malfunction of the nervous system (for example postherpetic neuralgia, peripheral nerve injuries and the neuropathies) is often severe and resistant to standard analgesics. These patients are commonly seen in pain clinics where they receive a variety of treatments including psychotropic drugs (such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants), nerve blocks and stimulation. There is concern that the management of these difficult patients may be less than optimal where they are not seen by pain specialists. We examined a cohort of 703 patients with long-established nerve-damage pain seen in ten outpatient pain clinics. We compared their use of treatments prior to referral with the management given in the pain clinic. The majority of patients (79%) had had their pain for over 1 year before being seen in the pain clinic, yet many had not tried simple and effective treatments prior to referral. Less than a quarter had received an adequate trial of antidepressants; only one in seven had been appropriately treated with anticonvulsants; and only one in 10 had tried a nerve stimulator. All these treatments were frequently provided in the pain clinic. Referral of patients with nerve-damage pain to a pain clinic may greatly increase their access to therapies of proven value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-385
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994


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