Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition usually caused by progressive, chronic nerve disease. It can flare up anytime without an obvious pain-causing factor or event. Usually, non-neuropathic pain is due to an illness or injury. For example, your nervous system will send pain signals to your brain when you drop a heavy object on your foot.
In contrast, a specific injury or event does not typically trigger neuropathic pain. Instead, the body sends pain signals unprompted. If you have this condition, you may experience burning or shooting pain, which may occur intermittently or constantly. You may also experience loss of sensation or numbness. Neuropathic pain tends to worsen over time without treatment.
Neuropathic pain stems from injury or damage to the nerves that transmit information between the spinal cord and brain from other body parts. Many people describe this pain as a burning sensation. Usually, affected areas are sensitive to touch. Other symptoms of neuropathic pain include:
Pins and needles
Difficulty sensing temperatures
You may also find it challenging to wear thick or heavy clothes as even the slightest pressure can intensify your pain.
It often seems like there is no apparent cause of neuropathic pain. However, there are some common causes, such as:
A complication or symptom of several conditions and diseases can cause neuropathic pain. Some of these include multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, and various types of cancer. However, not everyone with these diseases will experience this pain.
Studies show that diabetes accounts for about 30 percent of all neuropathic pain cases. People living with diabetes often experience numbness and loss of feeling, followed by stinging, burning, and pain in their digits and limbs.
Excessive alcohol intake can lead to various complications, including neuropathic pain. Nerve damage due to long-term alcohol intake can have painful and lasting effects. For example, it can cause trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition that causes severe neuropathic pain on one side of your face. Unfortunately, it is common and can happen without an obvious reason.
Injuries to joints, muscles, or tissue can cause neuropathic pain caused by lasting nerve damage. While it can heal, the damage to your nervous system may linger, causing persistent pain long after the accident. Also, injuries that affect your spine, spinal cord compression, and herniated discs can damage nerve fibers and cause neuropathic pain.
In rare cases, infections can cause neuropathic pain. For example, shingles can trigger weeks of neuropathic pain along a nerve. A syphilis infection can also cause stinging, burning, and unexplained pain. HIV can also cause this pain.
Phantom limb syndrome is a rare form of neuropathic pain. It can occur following the amputation of an arm or leg. Despite losing your limb, your brain continues to think it is receiving pain signals from the amputated body part. In reality, it is due to the misfiring of the nerves near the amputation. It is also possible to experience phantom pain in the toes, fingers, ears, penis, and other body parts.
Arthritis in the spine
Vitamin B deficiency
Facial nerve problems
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Left untreated, neuropathic pain can negatively impact your quality of life. It can lead to severe complications and disability over time. Fortunately, doctors and researchers are learning more about this condition and how to treat it effectively, leading to better treatment options.
For more on neuropathic pain, visit South Bay Wellness Center at our San Jose, California office. Call (408) 642-6060 to schedule an appointment today.