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, 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 including 10 participants were used to generate qualitative data on both individual and shared experiences of managing their symptoms of neuropathic pain. Discussions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed 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 behavioural 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
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