What are the causes, symptoms and treatment of neuropathic pain?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The cause of neuropathic pain is not well founded yet due to the lack of research in this specific area, and because sometimes the patiens exhibit either short term or long term pain, which makes it very hard for tracking causes.

What is known is that it happens when a nerve is injured, and the amount of stress put upon it is what determines the length, resistance, and continuity of the pain itself.

The National Pain Foundation cites allodynia (when someone feels pain when exposed to things that do not usually cause pain), burning pain, stabbing pain, extreme pain, prickling/numbness, and even loss of feeling due to the lack of transmission from the nerve to the brain.

The treatment is difficult because nerve pain is not treated with the same medicines as muscular pain. In fact, they treat this illness with medicines usually reserved for herpes, shingles, seizures and even depression. This is the case because these specific medicines reach those very delicate nerve endings that regular pain medication only reaches in the gross motor of our bodies. This type of application of medications is known as "off-label use"

Included is a link that can help you understand this condition. As a sufferer of fibromyalgia myself I know quite well how hard these people have it.

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giorgiana1976's profile pic

giorgiana1976 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Neuropathic painis a complex chronic painful condition that usually is associated with tissue damage. If neuropathic pain, nerve fibers may be damaged, dysfunctional or destroyed. These damaged nerve fibers send incorrect signs to pain centers. The impact of nerve injury includes a change in nerve function both at the lesion site and in the surrounding area.

One example of neuropathic pain is phantom limb syndrome. It occurs when one member (upper or lower) is amputated due to an illness which required such a treatment. After amputation the brain still receives pain signals from nerves that in the past led nerve impulses through amputated member. These nerves will transmit incorrect nerve impulses that cause pain .

Causes of neuropathic pain

Neuropathic pain seems to have usually no obvious cause, but the most common causes of neuropathic pain are:

- Alcoholism;

- Amputation;

- Medical problems of back, leg or hip;

- Chemotherapy;

- Diabetes;

- Facial nerve diseases;

- HIV infection or AIDS;

- Multiple sclerosis;

- Spine surgery.

Symptoms of neuropathic pain

Symptoms of neuropathic pain include:

- sharp pain or burning feeling;

- Numbness and tingling.

Treatment of neuropathic pain

Some studies suggest neuropathic effectiveness of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can reduce pain. Some patients may need a stronger analgesic, such as those containing morphine. Antiepileptic drugs and antidepressants  seem to be effective in some cases. If it involved another condition such as diabetes, maintaining control of this disease can lead to pain relief.

In difficult cases to treat, a specialist in pain may use invasive or implantable device for effective treatment of pain. Electrical stimulation of the nerves involved in the generation of neuropathic pain can effectively control the painful symptoms. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain often responds partially to standard pain treatments and occasionally may aggravate rather than improve over time. For some people, this disease can cause a significant disability.

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