Neuropathic pain (NP), due to a lesion or disease of the somatosensory nervous system, is not well documented or researched in children. NP is a clinical diagnosis that can be difficult, especially in younger children. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise NP, as pain mechanisms and consequently management and prognosis differ from other types of long-term pain. NP is common in adult pain clinics but many of the underlying disease states in which it occurs are infrequently or never encountered in paediatric practice. However, NP in childhood has been reported, even in the very young in certain clinical situations. Causes of NP include traumatic injury, complex regional pain syndrome type II, cancer and chemotherapy, chronic infection, neurological and metabolic disease, and inherited sensory nerve dysfunction. The clinical and laboratory study of traumatic peripheral nerve injury has revealed important age-related differences in clinical presentation and prognosis. It is clear that mechanisms operating during development can profoundly modify the consequences of nerve damage and NP. Clinically, diagnosis, assessment and treatment of NP are based on methods and evidence derived from data in adults. Improvements in the understanding and management of NP are likely to come from developmentally appropriate improvements in the clarity and consistency of diagnosis and systematic, well-researched approaches to treatment.
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