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Pain Research and Management
Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 159-168
Original Article

The Impact of Enrollment in a Specialized Interdisciplinary Neuropathic Pain Clinic

Alex Garven, Shauna Brady, Susan Wood, Melinda Hatfield, Jennifer Bestard, Lawrence Korngut, and Cory Toth

Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Chronic pain clinics have been created because of the increasing recognition of chronic pain as a very common, debilitating condition that requires specialized care. Neuropathic pain (NeP) is a multifaceted, specialized form of chronic pain that often requires input from multiple disciplines for assessment and management.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of an interdisciplinary clinic for evaluation and treatment of patients with NeP.

METHODS: Patients with heterogeneous etiologies for NeP were prospectively evaluated using an interdisciplinary approach every six months. Diagnostic evaluation, comorbidity evaluation, education, and pharmacological and/or nonpharmacological management were completed. Severity (visual analogue scale) and features of pain (Modified Brief Pain Inventory), sleep difficulties (Medical Outcomes Study – Sleep Scale), mood/anxiety disruption (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), quality of life (European Quality-of-Life Five-Domain index), health care resources use, patient satisfaction (Pain Treatment Satisfaction Scale and Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory) and self-perceived change in well-being (Patient Global Impression of Change scale) were examined at each visit.

RESULTS: Pain severity only decreased after one year of follow-up, while anxiety and quality-of-life indexes improved after six months. Moderate improvements of sleep disturbance, less frequent medication use and reduced health care resource use were observed during enrollment at the NeP clinic.

DISCUSSION: Despite the limitations of performing a real-world, uncontrolled study, patients with NeP benefit from enrollment in a small interdisciplinary clinic. Education and a complete diagnostic evaluation are hypothesized to lead to improvements in anxiety and, subsequently, pain severity. Questions remain regarding the long-term maintenance of these improvements and the optimal structure of specialized pain clinics.