Are you experiencing chronic pain in your limbs? Is it a stabbing or throbbing feeling? You may be experiencing neuropathic pain. This is especially true if the pain prevents you from everyday activities such as walking, picking up objects, or even standing upright. The pain could be continuous, or it comes and goes, but it is usually severe and debilitating.
This kind of pain is usually caused by damage to nerves or the nervous system (either the brain or spinal cord.) You will need to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis to confirm if you have neuropathic pain or another condition causing you discomfort.
Continue reading to learn more about neuropathic pain.
Causes of Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain has no direct, stand-alone cause, but several of these factors have been linked to neuropathic pain. They include;
- Surgeries that require amputation
- The malfunctioning of pain signals by the nervous system
- Ruptured spine discs
- A compressed nerve caused by a tumor, or pressure on a nerve
- Disorders that cause nerve damage in patients, such as alcoholism, or multiple sclerosis
- STDs like Syphilis and AIDS
When one or more of these factors are at play,
It is not uncommon for patients to still feel this pain even after the root cause has been identified and treated. This is because prolonged pain causes the structures of nerves to change, making them more susceptible to sensitivity and thus, pain.
A person experiencing neuropathic pain may also feel hypersensitive to cold, touch or even light. It could also be a numbing or tingling sensation.
Neuropathic pain is common in people who experience complex pain disorders and phantom limb pains. In the case of phantom limb syndrome, after a limb is amputated, the brain may still receive pain signals from the nerves of the missing limb, causing severe pain. This pain contributes to anxiety and depression, which further fuels the pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Neuropathic Pain
In diagnosing neuropathic pain, your doctor may require that you take blood and nerve tests, including MRIs and EMGs. There may be a physical examination of your pain points and interviews to determine your risk factors. You will need to share how the pain feels and the triggers that spike it.
Each case of neuropathic pain may require a different treatment plan, but medications like NSAIDs are commonly used at the initial stages of treatment alongside antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
If the pain is severe or does not improve with medications, you need to see a good pain specialist. Pain specialists can use a broader range of treatments to combat pain. Such treatments may include physical/occupational therapy, nerve blockers, acupuncture, pain injections, electronic devices that manage pain impulses, or more than one of these therapies. Sometimes, surgery is done if required.
Managing chronic pain can be highly distressing. But understanding the nature of your pain by getting a diagnosis and working with a pain specialist can help you feel in control and manage it better.
At Lakeshore Pain and Spine Center, we treat most types of chronic pain. Let us help you explore relief options so you can live a fuller life. Get in touch with us today