Neuropathic pain is pain that is coming from the nerves themselves. This may be from tissues around the nerves causing pressure or other problems, or it may be from disease or other dysfunction within the nerve itself.
• Spinal Stenosis can cause pressure on the nerves.
• Diabetic Neuropathy may interrupt the blood supply to the nerves.
• Shingles is a virus within the nerve in itself.
• Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a dysfunction within the sympathetic nerves.
• Phantom Limb Syndrome can develop when nerves are damaged during an amputation.
• Spine Surgery may result in scar tissue and nerve entrapment.
• Chemotherapy may damage nerves many different ways.
• Nutritional deficiencies and toxins such as heavy metals can injure the nerves.
Outbreak of Shingles on a persons back
Image thanks to Yesyouisnot via Wikimedia Commons
Nerve pain has a distinct kind of feeling that is different from other types of pain. Because it is coming from within the nerve in itself it may cause many different sensations.
It may cause a burning type of pain, or a severe cold sensation, or a painful numbness, or an unbearable itching tingling feeling, or a relentless deep ache like a toothache.
A Very Difficult Problem
Neuropathic nerve pain can occur in a wide variety of situations and can be very difficult to treat. It is often a permanent condition that in some cases will get worse over time.
These chronic nerve pain conditions can cause severe lifestyle impairment that is difficult to tolerate for most people. Inability or limited ability to use one or more limbs is common.
Nerve pain can be a very difficult condition to live with and is also very difficult to treat for cure.
It is estimated that only 40 to 60% of patients find some degree of relief.
This type of pain can have a wide variety of causes, and just like with other types of pain, the exact best treatment will depend on the exact cause of your pain.
Many different types of treatments are being studied and/or trialed. Unfortunately, none have been extremely successful.
Image thanks to Jennifer Kennemer via Wikimedia Commons
Anti-Seizure Medications such as pregabalin or gabapentin are first line treatments for diabetic neuropathy. They have their effect by blocking certain calcium channel on the nerves which impairs the sending of pain signals.
Anti-Depressant Medications such as duloxetine and venlafaxine have their effect on the nerves and can block neuropathic pain in people who are not depressed. They work by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. These neurotransmitters limit the pain signal reaching your brain.
Botox or botulinum toxin type A injections have been helpful for nerve pain that is focused in small areas. These injections may need to be repeated every 3-4 months to maintain effectiveness.
Cannabinoids which are the active ingredient in medical marijuana has been shown to be helpful for peripheral neuropathy related to HIV. Unfortunately, the psychoactive side effects may limit their use.
Spinal Cord Stimulators use low voltage electrical stimulation to block the pain signal traveling to your brain. These have been shown to be very effective with many types of neuropathic pain. Lack of pain relief will sometimes cause these devices to be removed.
Implanted Pumps can deliver pain medication directly into the space around the fluid film space around the spinal cord. These have been shown to be useful but some patients still require additional pain medication by mouth. Possible complications include serious infections, meningitis, and intrathecal granuloma formation.
Other Therapies that can be Helpful
• Physical Therapy
• Massage Therapy
Neuropathic nerve pain can be a difficult problem to endure but there are things that can be done. The key to finding effective treatment is finding a pain management facility that can implement a wide variety of pain management techniques.
Even though your pain may not go away completely, learning to manage and control your pain can allow you to lead a happy and fulfilling life.