Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that is caused by damage or dysfunction of the nerves that carry signals between the brain and the body. This type of pain is often described as burning, stabbing, or shooting, and can be difficult to treat.
The exact cause of neuropathic pain can vary, but some common causes include:
- Trauma or injury to the nerves, such as a spinal cord injury or a herniated disc in the spine
- Infections, such as shingles or HIV
- Exposure to toxins or certain medications
- Nutritional deficiencies
To diagnose neuropathic pain, a doctor will typically begin by conducting a physical examination and asking about the patient’s medical history. They may also order some tests, such as blood tests or imaging scans, to help identify any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the pain.
Once the cause of the neuropathic pain has been determined, treatment options can include:
- Over the counter or prescription pain medications
- Topical creams or ointments that can be applied directly to the skin
- Physical therapy to help improve strength and flexibility
- Nerve blocks, which involve injecting medication directly into the area around the affected nerves
- Surgery, in some cases
In addition to these treatments, there are also some self-care measures that can help manage neuropathic pain. These may include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing
- Using heat or cold therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation
Overall, the goal of treatment for neuropathic pain is to reduce the pain and improve the patient’s quality of life. This may involve a combination of different treatments, and the specific approach will depend on the individual’s symptoms and underlying cause of the pain.
If you are experiencing pain you should seek medical advice from a qualified professional who can diagnose the underlying cause and recommend the best treatment.
To discuss diagnosis and treatment options, please book an appointment with our specialist.
To learn more about neuropathic pain, please click on https://patient.info/brain-nerves/neuropathic-pain
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych