Managing the symptoms of neuropathic pain: an exploration of patients' experiences

SJ Closs, V Staples, I Reid, MI Bennett, M Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The debilitating effects of chronic neuropathic pain on everyday life are considerable, but little is known about how individual sufferers manage these effects. Virtually nothing is known about what patients prefer, what measures they take themselves and when, or in what combinations. The aim of this study was to explore patients' reports of how they managed their neuropathic pain symptoms. Three focus groups (10 participants in total) were used to generate qualitative data on both individual and shared experiences of managing symptoms of neuropathic pain. Discussions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, identifying categories and broader themes of importance to patients. The most common management strategy was the use of conventional medications, often associated with poor effectiveness and unpleasant side effects. Complementary and alternative medicine was ineffective, but many found resting or retreating helpful. They exhibited a repeated cycle of seeking help to manage the pain, with each unsuccessful attempt followed by new attempts. Some had tried to accept their pain, but there was insufficient psychological, social, emotional, and practical support to allow them to do this successfully. This exploratory study provides a basis from which to develop a larger study to validate and extend the findings. Other issues meriting research are the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapies for those with neuropathic pain, and an exploration and subsequent evaluation of different types of social, practical, and emotional support needed to help live with neuropathic pain.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)422-433
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


  • Pain
  • neuropathic pain
  • self-management
  • patient perspective
  • qualitative
  • focus group method

Cite this