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Neuropathic Pain Guide: Causes, Treatment, And Symptoms

Have you ever felt a sharp, electric pain on the back of your leg or hip that radiates down to your foot? 

If so, then it’s likely that you’ve experienced sciatica – an unwelcome and sometimes excruciating condition. 

In this guide, we’ll give you detailed information about the causes, treatment options and symptoms of sciatica – no sugar-coating here! Read on for all the fiery details…

Neuropathic pain

What causes neuropathic pain?

 

Disease

The disease can cause neuropathic pain. 

This kind of pain is often felt in the legs and can have other symptoms too. 

For instance, it can cause burning, tingling, numbness, and shooting or stabbing pains.

Injuries

An injury to the nerve pathways in the brain or spinal cord can also cause neuropathic pain. 

This kind of injury could be due to an accident or a disease such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes.

Infection

Various infections, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, can cause neuropathic pain. 

Viral infections such as shingles or herpes zoster can cause severe burning and stabbing. 

Pains in the affected area. Bacterial infections like Lyme disease and leptospirosis can cause neuropathic pain due to nerve damage.

Limb loss

Limb loss is a common cause of neuropathic pain, which can be described as a type of pain resulting from nerve damage or dysfunction. 

This can include damage to the spinal cord and peripheral nerves caused by traumatic injury, such as an accident or surgery, or diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS,

Other causes

Other causes of neuropathic pain can include genetic conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a hereditary disorder that affects the peripheral nerves, and vascular diseases such as Buerger’s disease, a condition in which arteries become blocked due to inflammation or narrowing of the vessel walls. 

Neuropathic pain can also result from chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and certain medications.

What are the symptoms?

Neuropathic pain symptoms can include burning sensations, tingling, numbness, extreme sensitivity, shooting or stabbing pains, and numbness or weakness in the affected area. 

People with neuropathic pain may also experience hypersensitivity to touch or cold temperatures.

How’s it treated?

 

Over-the-counter pain medication

Neuropathic Pain

Over-the-counter pain medications can be bought without a prescription and are used to help reduce neuropathic pain symptoms. 

These medications work by blocking pain signals from being sent to the brain, helping to reduce sensations of burning, tingling, numbness, shooting or stabbing pains, and hypersensitivity. 

Common over-the-counter pain medications include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen.

Prescription medications

Prescription medications are usually prescribed for more severe neuropathic pain. 

These can include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as duloxetine or venlafaxine, and anticonvulsants like gabapentin or pregabalin. 

These medications work by targeting the chemicals in the brain that send pain signals, helping reduce neuropathic pain symptoms.

Antidepressant drugs

Antidepressant drugs are medications that can help treat neuropathic pain, a type of chronic pain caused by damage or disease to nerve cells in the body. 

These drugs block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, two hormones that regulate mood and emotion. 

They can also act on other substances in the brain that control pain and reduce neuropathic pain symptoms. 

Commonly prescribed antidepressants for treating neuropathic pain in the legs include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

Prescribing medication is always based on individual patient needs, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best option.

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants are a class of medications used to treat seizures but can also be useful in controlling neuropathic pain. 

Neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves that causes chronic and sometimes severe pain. 

Anticonvulsants work by blocking certain chemical signals within the brain that are associated with sending pain signals. 

They can be effective in treating neuropathy symptoms, such as pain in the legs. 

Common anticonvulsants used to treat neuropathic pain include lamotrigine, pregabalin, and carbamazepine.

Before beginning treatment, it is important to speak with a doctor about any potential side effects of anticonvulsant medications.

Nerve blocks

Nerve blocks are a form of intervention that can help treat neuropathic pain, a type of chronic and often debilitating pain associated with nerve damage. 

Nerve blocks involve an injection of anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medications directly into the affected area. 

The injections are placed into specific nerve bundles or pathways connected to the area of the body where the pain is located. 

This blocks the transmission of pain signals from these nerves and can provide relief for up to several weeks or months, depending on the severity of the case. 

Nerve blocks are often combined with other treatments, such as physical therapy and medications, to help manage neuropathic pain in the legs and other areas affected by nerve damage.

Implantable device

Implantable devices are special tools that doctors can use to help with neuropathic pain, such as pain in your legs. They can help reduce symptoms like burning or tingling. 

Implantable devices are placed in the body, usually near nerves that transmit pain signals. 

The device sends electrical pulses or medication to the nerves to block pain signals from getting through. 

This can help reduce neuropathic pain and give you relief. 

The implant may have a wire leading out of your skin so a doctor can adjust it remotely. 

Although implantable devices can be a great option for some people, they come with risks and should only be used after other treatments have failed to provide relief. 

Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using an implantable device.

Nerve pain treatment at home

Lifestyle treatments for neuropathic pain can include various methods that help reduce symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for those suffering from this condition. 

These treatments typically involve dietary changes, physical and occupational therapies, relaxation techniques, and other lifestyle modifications. 

Diet changes may include avoiding foods that increase inflammation, such as processed foods, refined sugars, and fatty meats. 

Eating more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can reduce inflammation. 

Exercise can also help reduce neuropathic pain symptoms by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility. 

Physical therapies may also help to relieve discomfort associated with neuropathic pain in the legs by providing targeted exercises that focus on specific areas of the body. 

Occupational therapies may be prescribed to help with activities of daily living and can provide relief from fatigue associated with neuropathic pain. 

Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, can also help to relieve anxiety and stress associated with this condition. 

Finally, lifestyle modifications such as improving sleep habits and avoiding alcohol or drugs may be recommended to reduce neuropathic pain symptoms. 

How can this pain be managed?

Multimodal therapy

Multimodal therapy is an approach to managing neuropathic pain that combines different treatments and medications. 

This often includes a mix of pharmacological, physical, psychological, and other interventions. 

Common medications used in multimodal therapy include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioid analgesics. 

Additionally, physical therapy may be recommended to help reduce pain and improve strength and range of motion in the affected area and relaxation techniques to reduce stress.

Prevention From Neuropathic Pain

Prevention from neuropathic pain involves avoiding activities or conditions that cause nerve damage, such as diabetes, wound infections, and vitamin deficiencies. 

Staying active and eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing nerve pain. 

Adequate rest, stress management techniques, and regular exercise are important factors in preventing neuropathic pain.

FAQ About Neuropathic Pain Guide

What is neuropathic pain feel like?

Neuropathic pain can feel like burning, stabbing, aching, sharp and shooting sensations. 

It’s often felt along the body’s nerve pathways and can be constant or intermittent. 

Neuropathic pain is also known to cause numbness, sensitivity to touch or temperature changes, and extreme sensitivity to certain movements.

Many people describe neuropathy as pins and needles in their hands or feet that don’t go away. 

Additionally, muscle weakness may be due to difficulty controlling movement in affected body areas. 

Other symptoms include joint stiffness and twitching of muscles near affected nerves.

What is an example of neuropathic pain?

An example of neuropathic pain is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a chronic condition that affects the nerves in a certain body area. 

It usually occurs in an arm or leg after an injury, surgery, stroke or other medical condition. 

Symptoms may include burning and stabbing pains, swelling, and skin color and texture changes.

How is neuropathy pain treated?

Neuropathy pain can be treated with several methods, depending on the severity and cause. 

Common treatments include over-the-counter or prescription medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opioids to reduce inflammation and pain, antidepressants to treat nerve damage caused by injury, anticonvulsants for nerve irritation and burning sensations, nerve blocks to temporarily stop the transmission of pain signals from affected areas of the body, implantable device that use electrical stimulation to reduce symptoms, lifestyle modifications such as physical therapy or acupuncture for long term relief of neuropathic pain symptoms.

What is neuropathic pain caused by?

Neuropathic pain can be caused by several conditions, including illnesses like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and certain auto-immune diseases. 

It can also be caused by physical trauma to the nervous system, such as a spinal cord injury or stroke.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy and its role in health?

Peripheral neuropathy is when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain, spinal cord, and the rest of the body are damaged or diseased. 

This often leads to various health problems, one of the most common being neuropathic pain.

What is chronic neuropathic pain?

Chronic neuropathic pain is a persistent pain usually resulting from nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. 

The characteristics can be different from other pain types, including sensations described as shooting, burning, or stabbing.

Can you describe the experience of neuropathic pain?

Individuals who experience neuropathic pain describe it as a burning or shooting pain, often combined with tingling and numbness. 

The pain is often chronic and can be severe or constant, intermittent, or provoked by a normally non-painful stimulus, like a light touch.

How does chronic pain differ from neuropathic pain?

While both are types of persistent pain, chronic pain isn’t always due to nerve damage and can arise from injury, infection, or an ongoing illness. 

On the other hand, neuropathic pain is specifically due to damage or dysfunction of the nervous system. 

It’s important to understand the difference, as each type’s management and treatment strategies can differ.

How do you calm down neuropathic pain?

Calming down neuropathic pain often involves a multi-faceted approach. 

Medications such as anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants can help to alleviate the pain. 

Physical therapy exercises can improve mobility and strength, while cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients cope with the mental impact of chronic pain. 

In addition, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep hygiene can also help to manage neuropathic pain.

What are the four common types of neuropathic pain?

There are several types of neuropathic pain, with four common ones being:

  • > Peripheral Neuropathy: Usually caused by damage to the peripheral nerves, often in the hands and feet. Diabetes is a common cause.

  • > Trigeminal Neuralgia: A chronic pain condition affecting the facial trigeminal nerve.

  • > Postherpetic Neuralgia: A persistent pain condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes shingles.

  • > Phantom Limb Pain occurs after a limb amputation, and the person experiences pain in the limb that is no longer there.

What are the 4 features of neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain has several distinctive features, such as:

  • > Hyperalgesia: An increased response to painful stimuli.

  • > Allodynia: Pain due to a stimulus that does not typically provoke pain, such as light touch or temperature changes.

  • > Chronic Pain: Neuropathic pain is often persistent, lasting 3 months or longer.

  • > Neuropathic Pain Symptoms: These can include shooting, burning, or stabbing pain, tingling or numbness and extreme sensitivity to touch.

Conclusion

Considering the devastating and long-lasting effects of sciatica, it is essential to see a doctor if you suspect that you may be suffering from this condition. 

While the underlying causes and treatments for sciatica are still not completely understood, home remedies and medical techniques are available to help relieve your sciatic nerve pain. 

So don’t waste another minute wallowing in pain – get yourself checked out! 

Reserve a consultation with your local integrated pain management specialist today; they can evaluate your symptoms and suggest tailored treatments accordingly. 

Don’t suffer in silence any longer – book an appointment now!

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