Assessment and Treatment of Psychosocial Comorbidities in Patients With Neuropathic Pain

Turk, Dennis C.; Audette, Joseph; Levy, Robert M.; Mackey, Sean C.; Stanos, Steven
March 2010
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Mar2010 Supplement, Vol. 85, pS42
Academic Journal
Chronic neuropathic pain is a prevalent problem that eludes cure and adequate treatment. The persistence of intense and aversive symptoms, Inadequacy of available treatments, and Impact of such pain on all aspects of functioning underscore the important role of several psychosocial factors in causing, maintaining, and amplifying the perception of pain severity, coping adequacy, adaptation, impaired physical function, and emotional distress responses. Moreover, these factors have an influential role in response to treatment recommendations. In this article, we (1) review the prevalence and nature of emotional distress, (2) describe and propose methods for screening and comprehensive psychosocial assessment, and (3) review evidence supporting the potential complementary role of psychosocial treatments of patients with chronic pain. The cognitive-behavioral perspective and treatment approach are emphasized because the greatest amount of evidence supports their benefits. Published results of psychological treatments are modest; however, the same indictment can be placed on currently available pharmacological, medical, and interventional treatments for patients with chronic pain. We note the limited research on the effectiveness of psychological treatment specifically applied to patients with chronic neuropathic pain but suggest that it Is reasonable to extrapolate from successful trials in other types of chronic pain. Furthermore, psychological approaches should not be viewed as alternatives but rather should be integrated as part of a comprehensive approach to the treatment of patients with chronic neuropathic pain.


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