Depression is correlated with neuropathic pain in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), found a new study published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

It is also often overlooked in these patients and therefore needs to be observed closely. Initial spinal cord involvement may be an indicator of a higher risk of developing neuropathic pain later in the disease.

Neuropathic pain is common in NMOSD “but has always been overlooked,” noted the study authors. Their aim in conducting the study was to identify factors that correlate with neuropathic pain in NMOSD and to explore the relationship between patients’ quality of life and pain.

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The team interviewed 122 patients with NMOSD face to face and evaluated their pain, depression, and quality of life using different scales. 

Of the 122 patients, the majority (81) had current pain. Of these, 35 had neuropathic pain, but not even a third of patients (29.6%) were given analgesics. 

Almost half of the patients (49) had depression, and this was moderate to severe in 22 of them. 

Using statistical analyses, the researchers demonstrated more patients with neuropathic pain had depression than patients with other types of pain or no pain. 

They also found that significantly more patients with neuropathic pain had spinal cord involvement from the start compared to patients with no pain. 

Patients with neuropathic pain had severely reduced quality of life compared to the others, but none were prescribed antidepressants.

Depression correlates with neuropathic pain and is “astonishingly underestimated and ignored,” the researchers concluded. “Pain, especially neuropathic pain in NMOSD patients, requires scrutiny.”

Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage or injury to the nerves that carry information to the brain and spinal cord from the skin, muscles, and other parts of the body. 


Zhang X, Pei L, Xu Y, et al. Factors correlated with neuropathic pain in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2022;4;68:104213. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2022.104213