Neuropathic pain is considered a chronic pain state that typically occurs with tissue injury. At times neuropathic pain may be caused by damaged, dysfunctional or injured nerve fibers. The damaged nerve fibers can send incorrect signals to other pain centers. Nerve fiber injuries can change nerve function at the site of the injury and the areas around the injury site.
A common example of neuropathic pain is phantom limb syndrome. Phantom limb syndrome occurs when an arm or leg has been amputated due to illness or injury, but the brain still receives pain messages from the nerves that originally carried impulses from the removed limb. These nerves now misfire and cause phantom pain.
Neuropathic pain has no one cause, but there are several other conditions that appear to be behind the pain. These conditions include alcoholism, amputation, chemotherapy, diabetes and HIV. While there are other conditions that can cause neuropathic pain, these are the most common.
Neuropathic pain symptoms include shooting or burning pain and tingling and numbness. These symptoms typically occur near the site of nerve fiber damage. Doctors will use this pain to locate the site and conduct both an interview and a physical exam to diagnose neuropathic pain. The doctor may ask questions about the pain. These questions commonly include if anything specific triggers the pain.
Neuropathic Pain Treatment
There have been several studies run about medication uses for neuropathic pain treatment. These studies suggest use of non-hormoneal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help. NSAIDs are medications like Aleve and Motrin. However, many patients may require a stronger painkiller. In this situation, many doctors will prescribe something containing morphine. Other medications that have proven to be useful are anticonvulsants and antidepressants. These medications only work in select circumstances though.
Other neuropathic pain treatments include better control of the condition that has caused the neuropathic pain. For example, if the patient has diabetes then bringing their blood glucose into the normal range can help alleviate the pain.
In other cases, neuropathic pain treatment can include using a pain specialist who can use invasive or implantable device therapies to effectively manage the pain. This can include electrical stimulation of the nerves that are damaged.
Unfortunately, the pain of neuropathy does not respond well to standard pain treatments.
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