Modelling the prevalence and cost of back pain with neuropathic components in the general population

Carsten O. Schmidt, Bernd Schweikert, Christina M. Wenig, Uwe Schmidt, Ulrich Gockel, Rainer Freynhagen, Thomas R. Tölle, Ralf Baron, Thomas Kohlmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Background: Although there is increasing knowledge of the prevalence of neuropathic pain, little has been done to isolate the cost of neuropathic pain, especially with reference to the frequent complaint of back pain. Aims: To estimate the prevalence of neuropathic components in back pain and associated costs. Methods: We used available epidemiological data to model the prevalence of neuropathic back pain in the general adult population, combining three studies: painDETECT 1, painDETECT 2, and the German back pain research network (GBPRN) study, representing a total of 21,047 subjects. The painDETECT screening questionnaire was used in the former two surveys to assess neuropathic pain components. Costing data were obtained from 1718 participants in the GBPRN survey. Results: According to our model, approximately 4% of the general adult population experienced back pain with a neuropathic component. Owing to the greater severity of neuropathic pain, its costs were found to be disproportionately high: among patients with persistent back pain, typical costs associated with a person suffering neuropathic back pain were higher than those of an average back pain patient, and as much as 67% higher than those of a patient with nociceptive back pain only. Approximately, 16% of the total costs associated with back pain were attributable to pain with a neuropathic component. Conclusions: Back pain with neuropathic components is likely to affect a relevant proportion of the general adult population and cause a disproportionately high share of back pain-related costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030-1035
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Cost of illness
  • General population
  • Low back pain
  • Neuropathic pain


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