BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Painful neuropathic disorders (PNDs) refer to neurological disorders involving nerves in which pain is a predominant symptom. In most cases, PNDs involve the peripheral nerves. Treatment of PNDs is likely to use large health care resources. However, little is known about the economic burden of PNDs in Canada.
METHOD: The present study was performed using data from a random sample of patients covered by the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Quebec drug plan. Subjects with a diagnosis of a peripheral PND were identified. Comorbidities, pain-related medication use and resource utilization were compared between PND patients and control patients without PNDs matched for age and sex in a 1:1 ratio.
RESULTS: A total of 4912 patients with PNDs were identified. A higher level of comorbidities was found in the PND group (Von Korff chronic disease score 3.91 versus 2.54; P<0.001). The proportion of users of pain-related medications was significantly higher in the PND cohort than in the control group (χ2; P<0.001). The average annual number of physician visits was also significantly higher in the PND group than in the control group (14.7 versus 6.4; P<0.001). From a health ministry perspective, costs of health care resources were significantly higher in the PND group ($4,163 versus $1,846; P<0.001). The proportion of potentially inappropriate medications was 34% among those 65 years of age or older.
CONCLUSIONS: PNDs are associated with a higher level of comorbidities, higher medical resources utilization and higher health care costs than non-PND conditions.