Background: The assessment of a neuropathic pain component (NePC) to establish the neurological criteria required to comply with the clinical description is based on history taking, clinical examination, and quantitative sensory testing (QST) and includes bedside examination (BSE). The objective of this study was to assess the potential association between the clinically diagnosed presence or absence of an NePC, BSE, and the Nijmegen-Aalborg screening QST (NASQ) paradigm in patients with chronic (≥3 months) low back and leg pain or with neck shoulder arm pain or in patients with chronic pain due to suspected peripheral nerve damage.
Methods: A total of 291 patients participated in the study. Pain (absence or presence of neuro-pathic pain) was assessed independently by two physicians and compared with BSE (measurements of touch [finger, brush], heat, cold, pricking [safety pin, von Frey hair], and vibration). The NASQ paradigm (pressure algometry, electrical pain thresholds, and conditioned pain modulation) was assessed in 58 patients to generate new insights.
Results: BSE revealed a low association of differences between patients with either absent or present NePC: heat, cold, and pricking sensations with a von Frey hair were statistically significantly less common in patients with present NePC. NASQ did not reveal any differences between patients with and without an NePC.
Conclusion: Currently, a standardized BSE appears to be more useful than the NASQ paradigm when distinguishing between patients with and without an NePC.