Nerve Pain Relief
Also known as: Neuropathic Pain (Neuralgia, Neuritis, Neuropathy, Neuropathic Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy, Polyneuropathy, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic dystrophy, RSD)
Definition: Neuropathic pain, Neuralgia or Neuropathy is pain that is caused by an abnormality or dysfunction of a nerve, a group of nerves, or even the brain and spinal cord which results in unregulated activity of the nervous system and subsequently, pain and disability.
Nerve Pain Information
Overview: Millions suffer with severe pain due to nerve damage
Neuropathic pain includes a wide range of medical conditions that affect nerves of the central nervous system (the brain or the spinal cord), nerves that travel into the body (known as peripheral nerves), or nerves of the involuntary nervous system(known as the autonomic nervous system and includes the sympathetic nerves). Neuropathic pain affects over 4 million Americans. Pain caused by abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord are referred to as central pain states while pain that is caused by abnormalities of the nerves after they leave the brain or spinal cord is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. An abnormality of the sympathetic nerves is called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or RSD Pain. When the nerve dysfunction involves a combination of peripheral nerve and the sympathetic nerve the medical condition is termed complex regional pain syndrome. Neuropathy may involve the large nerves such as the nerve roots as they exit from the spine called radiculopathy or the very small nerve ending in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
The cause of neuropathic pain remains unknown
In the majority of cases of neuropathic pain, the cause cannot be determined. The known causes of neuropathic pain are many and varied and include diseases of the central nervous system such as strokes or spinal cord injury or injuries to peripheral nerves. Nerves may be injured by direct trauma or compression such as a lumbar disc herniation (results in radiculopathy), carpal tunnel syndrome, by sudden stretching (neuropraxia) such as hyperextension injuries of the limbs or whiplash injuries of the neck. Infections may damage the nerves and result in severe pain as in post herpetic neuralgia (shingles), Lyme disease, or HIV related neuropathy. Some diseases such as diabetes mellitus, vitamin deficiency, or vascular disease cause damage to the small nerves causing pain and numbness in the extremities, particularly in the lower legs and feet. Excessive alcohol use or exposure to certain environmental toxins like mercury can result in damage to the central nervous system, peripheral nerves, or smaller nerve of the extremities. Even the body’s own immune system may turn against peripheral nerves or nerves of the central nervous system in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which results in painful neuritis.
Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.
Nerve Pain Symptoms
Shooting, burning pain and loss of function anywhere and sometimes everywhere
Because so many different nerves of the central nervous system or peripheral nerves may be affected, the symptoms of neuropathic pain are widely diverse. The pain is often described as burning or shooting pain, usually aggravated by movement and can be associated with an extreme sensitivity to normal touching of the skin, known as allodynia, or an exaggerated response to usually minimally painful stimuli, known as hyperesthesia or hyperalgesia. Neuropathy of the central nervous system may cause pain to spread over wide regions of the body and may result in total body pain. Peripheral neuropathy usually causes pain and numbness to travel along the course of the nerve and into the areas that the nerve innervates and is usually limited to one side of the body. These areas may include the face, mouth, upper or lower extremities, upper torso, abdomen, or genitalia. When neuropathic pain involves the smaller nerves of the extremities, the pain and numbness is usually in both extremities and tends to be diffuse throughout the entire extremity.
In the case of complex regional pain syndrome or sympathetic dystrophy, the pain may involve an entire region of the body such as the upper or lower extremity and usually spreads beyond the area of original injury, and is increased by movement of the extremity and cold weather. Complex regional pain syndrome or sympathetic dystrophy is also accompanied by change in skin temperature (vasomotor changes), increased sweating (sudomotor changes), altered hair or nail bed growth(hypertrophy), skin and muscle wasting (atrophy), contractures of the joints, and skin that appears shiny or discolored.
Nerve Pain Treatments
There is no cure and no treatment specific for neuropathic pain. The standard treatments for neuropathic pain are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, steroid injections, and nerve blocks. As most patients who suffer with this type of pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers of nerve pain often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications.
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