Neuropathic Pain: Definition, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment


What is Neuropathic Pain?


Neuropathic pain is a complex, chronic pain state generally accompanied by tissue injuries. The nerve fibres may be damaged, dysfunctional or injured during such chronic pain and sends incorrect signals to other pain centers in the body. The effect may include a change in functioning of nerves both at the spot of injury and areas around the spot of injury.

Phantom Limb syndrome is one such type of neuropathic pain, which occurs while removing an arm or a leg from the body due to illness or severe injury. The brain still receives pain signals from the nerves originally carrying inclinations from the missing limb.



Causes of Neuropathic Pain


Here are some common causes of neuropathic pain-

v Alcoholism

v Amputation

v AIDS or HIV infection

v Chemotherapy

v Diabetes

v Multiple sclerosis

v Severe back or hip troubles

v Shingles

v Spine Surgery



Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain


A doctor first needs to conduct an interview and then a physical examination of the patient to diagnose neuropathic pain. The doctor may ask questions related to the type of pain pain you are suffering, when it occurs or whether anything particular triggers the pain, etc. The doctor may also require your blood and nerve test reports.

Treatment of Neuropathic Pain


According to some neuropathic pain studies, the use of non-steroidal anti-provocative drugs like Aleve or Motrin may ease the pain. Some people may need stronger painkillers containing morphine to reduce the pain. Anticonvulsant and antidepressant drugs also do the work in some cases.

If the patient has diabetes, better management of the diabetes may also trigger the pain. To eliminate that situation, effective management of both conditions is advised to prevent any further nerve damage.

In difficult cases, the doctor may use an invasive or implantable device to reduce the pain. Electrical stimulation of the nerves causing the pain may significantly manage the pain symptoms.

There are several others ways to treat the neuropathic pain effectively. Some of them include-

  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Message Therapy



Recommended Reading: Questions to Ask your Neurologist about your Peripheral Neuropathy