Is treatment of postherpetic neuralgia in the community consistent with evidence-based recommendations?

Robert H. Dworkin, Christopher J. Panarites, Edward P. Armstrong, Daniel C. Malone, Sissi V. Pham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Few studies have examined the extent to which treatment of patients with neuropathic pain in the community is consistent with evidence-based treatment recommendations. U.S. health care claims were used to identify patients who received a diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). The initial pharmacologic treatments and changes to these treatment regimens were categorized according to the International Association for the Study of Pain Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group recommendations for first-, second-, and third-line treatment of neuropathic pain. The results indicated that the treatment of PHN was only partially consistent with these treatment recommendations. Of the patients diagnosed with PHN who were not already on a specified treatment, 70% began treatment with either a first-, second-, or third-line treatment or a not-recommended treatment, and 30% did not begin treatment with any of these medications. Only one-quarter of patients began treatment with a first-line medication, the same percentage that began treatment with either a third-line medication or a not-recommended treatment. There was a wide range of initial treatment durations, but the means and medians suggest that patients and clinicians often decide to change the initial treatment within 2 months, either by discontinuing it, replacing it with a new medication, or adding a new medication. Although there were generally shorter treatment durations with opioid analgesics and tramadol, these medications were more frequently used in beginning treatment than the other treatments. The results suggest that a considerable number of patients with PHN in the community are not receiving evidence-based treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-875
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Guidelines
  • Health care utilization
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Recommendations
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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