Neuropathic Pain is a complex, chronic pain state that usually is accompanied by tissue injury. With neuropathic pain, the nerve fibers themselves might be damaged, dysfunctional, or injured.
These damaged nerve fibers send incorrect signals to other pain centers. The impact of a nerve fiber injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury.
Neuropathic pain – otherwise known as nerve pain – is a type of chronic pain that occurs when nerves in the central nervous system become injured or damaged. If you or someone you care about has nerve pain, you know that it can erode quality of life.
This type of pain is caused by a problem with one or more nerves themselves. The function of the nerve is affected in a way that it sends pain messages to the brain. Neuropathic pain is often described as burning, stabbing, shooting, aching, or like an electric shock.
One example of neuropathic pain is called phantom limb syndrome. This rare condition occurs when an arm or a leg has been removed because of illness or injury, but the brain still gets pain messages from the nerves that originally carried impulses from the missing limb. These nerves now misfire and cause pain.
Various conditions can affect nerves and may cause neuropathic pain as one of the features of the condition. These include the following:
Related to the pain there may also be:
Some neuropathic pain studies suggest the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Aleve or Motrin, may ease pain. Some people may require a stronger painkiller, such as those containing morphine. Anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs seem to work in some cases.
If another condition, such as diabetes, is involved, better management of that disorder may alleviate the pain. Effective management of the condition can also help prevent further nerve damage.
In cases that are difficult to treat, a pain specialist may use an invasive or implantable device to effectively manage the pain. Electrical stimulation of the nerves involved in neuropathic pain may significantly control the pain symptoms.
Other kinds of treatments can also help with neuropathic pain. Some of these include:
Unfortunately, neuropathic pain often responds poorly to standard pain treatments and occasionally may get worse instead of better over time. For some people, it can lead to serious disability. A multidisciplinary approach that combines therapies, however, can be a very effective way to provide relief from neuropathic pain.