Overcoming clinical challenges of refractory neuropathic pain


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Advocate Research Institute


Introduction: Refractory neuropathic pain (ReNP), and its definition, is widely disputed among clinicians due in part to unclear diagnosing guidelines, overall duration of neuropathic pain, and the exhaustiveness of treatment options. Usually, ReNP is defined as chronic, intractable, and unresponsive neuropathic pain that has otherwise been untreatable.

Areas covered: In this narrative review, we discuss and summarize the effectiveness of prospective ReNP research conducted over the past 10 years. This research looks at pharmacological and interventional therapies in clinical trial settings. The pharmacological therapies discussed include the use of adjuvant treatments to improve the safety and efficacy of conventional approaches. Different modalities of administration, such as injection therapy and intrathecal drug delivery systems, provide targeted drug delivery. Interventional therapies such as neuromodulation, pulse radiofrequency, and nerve lesioning are more invasive; however, they are increasingly utilized in the field, as reflected in ongoing clinical trials.

Expert opinion: Based on the current data from RCTs and systematic reviews, it is clear that single drug therapy cannot be effective and has significant limitations. Transitioning to interventional modalities that showed more promising results sooner rather than later may be even more cost efficient than attempting different conservative treatments with a high failure rate.



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