When a person experiences pain, it is sometimes hard for them to describe the exact type of pain or exactly where the pain is generated from. This is the case with neuropathy pain. Nerve pain is perhaps one of the hardest pains to completely define and understand. The complexity of treating neuropathy pain stems from many reasons. It could be a lack of an obvious source of pain. It could be the lack of the patient’s inability to fully explain what is wrong with them. It may be a long-term, on-going saga of medical history that was poorly managed by the wrong medications which caused the pain to reach uncontrollable proportions. Many times patients will be given escalating doses of opioids in the hope that this would bring them relief, only to find out later down the road of time that this did not solve the problem. Then they are forced to find a pain management specialist.
As many patients can attest, opioids are rarely the fix-all to neuropathy pain. Neuropathy pain treatments include antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs. These are usually not discussed with patients in the early stages of the disease and are mentioned only in the later stages of neuropathy. Furthermore, the mere mention of these drugs to neuropathy patients results in their confusion and doubt in the physician. Many patients react with expressions like “I’m not depressed” or “I’m not crazy, I just need a higher dose of my medication”.
The neuropathic pain epidemic has created a battle between patients and their doctors who are trying to help them. The problem is that, unlike other pains that have a direct cause, the pain of neuropathy can be very vague. For many physicians, there is no need to try to tease the pain, so they just prescribe an opioid drug and send the patient home. This causes problems because not only does the pain usually not go away, but the patient is exposed to a drug that is potentially addictive – another epidemic of its own.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT NEUROPATHY PAIN
Understanding what neuropathy pain is and how it may reveal itself in the body are the two most important things to consider when defining and treating this disease. If you suspect that your pain is neuropathic in nature, consider this list of questions for your doctor:
- May pain is still the same, could this be neuropathy pain?
- The medications I am taking do not help. Could this be neuropathy pain?
- Are these medications appropriate for treating neuropathic pain?
- How much experience do you have in treating neuropathic pain? Should I get a second opinion?
- Are the medications you are giving me potentially addictive? What else should I know about these medications?
- Can you explain how antidepressants and antiepileptic medications work to help neuropathy pain?
These are just some of the questions you can and should ask your doctor about medications. Waiting to get the appropriate help can make neuropathy pain difficult and frustrating. However, much can be said about informing the patient of the proper treatments and medications. With correct information, you and your doctor can work as a team providing the proper treatments to overcome the battle of neuropathy pain.
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