Pain is a normal part of everyone’s lives and is caused due to various reasons. It could be due to a tension headache, skinned knee or a bone fracture. But, when the pain is chronic and there is no apparent reason, then consulting a physician immediately would be your best bet.
Essentially, neuropathic pain is a state of complex and lingering pain that is generally accompanied by a tissue injury. In this type of pain, the nerve fibers themselves are injured, dysfunctional or entirely damaged. Due to this, incorrect pain signals are sent to some other pain centers. The impact of the nerve fiber injury is so much that it changes the functioning of that particular nerve and also the surrounding areas.
To better understand what neuropathic pain is, let’s look take a look at a specific condition called phantom limb syndrome. It is a rare condition and occurs when a person’s arm or leg has been amputated due to an injury or an illness. In this condition, somehow the brain gets pain signals from the nerves that were part of the missing limb. Since, the nerves no longer exist there, it misfires and causes pain.
Causes of Neuropathic Pain
Although, there are no specific causes of neuropathic pain, some of the common causes that have been noticed are as follows:
- Facial nerve problems
- Multiple Sclerosis or MS
- Spine surgery
- Leg, back, and hip problems
- AIDS or HIV infection
- And more…
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain can be characterized by burning and shooting pain and numbness or a tingling sensation. If you are not sure whether you have neuropathic pain, your physician can help diagnose it for you. As part of your diagnosis, your physician will start off with a physical exam combined with an interview. Certain questions that will be asked are, when does the pain occur and how does it feel at that time. She/he will also ask if there is anything in particular that triggers the pain, may be while performing a specific action or while you were thinking about some incident. It could be anything. Some physicians may also suggest that you undergo nerve and blood tests.
Treatment for Neuropathic Pain
Some studies in neuropathic pain condition state that consuming anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal drugs like Motrin or Aleve can ease the pain. Depending on the intensity of the pain, some individuals may need stronger painkillers, ones that contain morphine. In other cases, antidepressant and anticonvulsant drugs may work.
If neuropathic pain is due to another condition like diabetes, then treating it may lessen the pain. Better management of diabetes may also help in preventing further damage to the nerve. On the other hand, there are some cases where it becomes tough to treat the pain. In such cases, using an implantable or invasive device can manage the pain effectively. Some physicians even prescribe electrical stimulation. This can control the symptoms of pain in the nerves involved considerably.
Certain other techniques like physical, relaxation, and massage therapy, acupuncture or working with a counselor can help ease neuropathic pain. We, of course, highly recommend topical pain remedies as well.
Neuropathic pain differs from person to person. Often, what treatment option works for one person may not have similar results for another. Hence, for effective neuropathic treatment, physicians frequently advise a multidisciplinary approach, which combines therapies and medications.