Neuropathic pain is discomfort brought about by injury or impairment to the nerves. The pain can be triggered by various factors such as:
- Irritation or inflammation
- Certain forms of infection such as shingles
- Protruding disc in the back that crushes a nerve
- Certain health conditions such as thyroid issues or diabetes
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Damage to the brain such as a stroke
Neuropathic pain is different from the other types of pain. It can be described as stabbing, sharp or burning or even strikingly resemble an electric shock. The discomfort can be worse at night time.
The pain can be continuous after a stroke or if the individual has diabetic neuropathy of the legs and feet.
Some of the types of neuropathic pain include:
- Sensation of pain from something that does not typically trigger pain such as a breeze blowing across the leg or arm or sheet brushing against the leg
- Intense pain from something that usually triggers a certain degree of pain.
- Discomfort without actual pain.
It is important to note that neuropathic pain can originate from 1 or several nerves. The type of pain that arises and where it occurs is based on the nerves that are affected.
Management of neuropathic pain
If a health condition is responsible for neuropathic pain, it is vital to ensure that the disease is properly treated.
Both over-the-counter and prescription pain medications can work in alleviating neuropathic pain. In case these are not effective, antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs are given which work by disrupting the pain signals to the brain.
Other treatment options include:
- Application of cold and heat on the sore region. Switching between cold and heat might also be beneficial.
- Physical therapy
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Lidocaine or gels that include anti-inflammatory medication
- A shot of a local anesthetic, steroid or chemicals that block the pain signals or reduce the inflammation
- Skin patches that include a numbing medication
- Surgical removal of the nerve root