Injuries and Diseases
|What is neuropathic
Neuropathic pain is pain caused by injury to or deterioration
How does it occur?
Neuropathic pain can occur as a result of:
nerve compression from tumors
irritation of the spinal nerves (such as by a herniated
diseases such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, pernicious
anemia, and shingles
deterioration of the nerves themselves due to aging or
brain injury, such as a stroke.
What are the symptoms?
Neuropathic pain feels different from most other types
of pain. It is often described as sharp, knifelike, stabbing,
or burning. It tends to be constant.
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms
and medical history. He or she will examine you. Tests
such as x-rays, scans, and nerve conduction tests may
be done to try to identify the specific cause of the pain.
How is it treated?
Most of the usual nonprescription and prescription pain
medications do not work well for neuropathic pain. Antidepressants
and antiseizure medicines that interfere with pain signals
to the brain work best (even though you may not necessarily
be depressed or having seizures). These medicines take
days or weeks to work, so you must take the medicine every
day to reduce the pain. These medicines rarely take away
the pain completely, but can help reduce it to a level
you can tolerate.
Other treatments may include:
heat applied to the painful area
cold applied to the painful area
biofeedback (a method of controlling your body's responses
with your mind)
electronic nerve stimulation devices
acupressure or acupuncture
surgery to sever the nerve causing the pain.
Injection of drugs into or around the nerve can deaden
the nerve, providing pain relief that is sometimes temporary
and sometimes permanent. However, this may result in numbness
in the area where the pain used to be. Injection of drugs
such as steroids to reduce inflammation may also be done.
If medication does not help your pain, your provider will
most likely refer you to a pain specialist or pain clinic.