This nationwide survey of the French general population indicates that pain with neuropathic characteristics induces a specific disease burden as compared to nonneuropathic pain.
We report the first nationwide survey of the impact of neuropathic pain, as opposed to nonneuropathic pain, on quality of life and health care utilization in the French general population. A postal questionnaire was sent to a representative sample of 4554 respondents from an initial nationwide survey of 30,155 subjects with or without chronic pain. It included pain characteristics (Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory, DN4), quality of life (Medical Outcomes Short Form 12, SF-12), sleep, anxiety/depressive symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and health care utilization. In total, 3899 (85.6%) questionnaires were returned, 3816 (97.9%) could be assessed and 3165 subjects (82.9%) confirmed their pain status. Subjects reporting pain and neuropathic characteristics based on the DN4 displayed a higher degree of impairment of all dimensions relating to quality of life and sleep and had higher anxiety/depression scores than those reporting pain without neuropathic characteristics and those without pain (P < .01). They also made greater use of health care facilities, particularly as concerned neurological treatments and visits to neurologists (21% vs 9%; P < .01). Multivariate analyses showed that the neuropathic characteristics of pain made an independent contribution to quality-of-life impairment (P < .0001 and P = .0005 for the physical and mental scores of the SF-12 respectively). Our study indicates that the disease burden of chronic pain depends on the nature of the pain, independently of its intensity and duration.