Long-Term Outcome of the Management of Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Prospective Observational Study
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This prospective observational cohort study addressed the long-term clinical effectiveness of the management of chronic neuropathic noncancer pain at 7 Canadian tertiary pain centers. Patients were treated according to standard guidelines and were followed at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Standard outcome measures for pain, mood, quality of life, and overall treatment satisfaction were administered, with the primary outcome measure designated as the composite of 30% reduction in average pain intensity and 1-point decrease in the mean Interference Scale Score (0-10) of the Brief Pain Inventory at 12 months relative to baseline. Of 789 patients recruited, mean age was 53.5 ± 14.2 years (55% female) and mean duration of pain was 4.88 ± 5.82 years. Mean average pain intensity (0-10) at baseline was 6.1 ± 1.9. All standard outcome measures showed statistically significant improvement at 12 months relative to baseline (P < .001). However, only 23.7% attained clinically significant improvement in pain and function at 12 months as the primary outcome measure. Univariable analyses showed poorer outcomes at 12-month follow-up with longer duration of pain (P = .002), greater cigarette use (P = .01), more disability compensation (P = .001), and higher opioid doses at baseline and at 12 months (P < .02). Our present treatment modalities provide significant long-term benefit in only about a quarter of patients with neuropathic pain managed at tertiary care pain clinics. Opioid therapy may not be beneficial for the long term. Perspective: Evidence-based treatment of chronic neuropathic pain provides long-term benefit in only about one-quarter of patients seen in tertiary care centers. Opioid therapy may not be beneficial.
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