Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that affects 7-10% of the population and can become disabling. To complicate matters, the patient often has diseases associated with the main condition.
Therefore, treatment for neuropathic pain is always multidisciplinary.
What is chronic Neuropathic Pain?
The neuropathic pain is generated by a lesion or dysfunction in the central nervous system. It can be due to:
- the compression of a nerve (caused by a tumor, a disk in the spine that has suffered breakage or a pressure pulse in a nerve);
- the injury nerve (arising from diabetes, herpes zoster, among other diseases);
- from the interruption or abnormal processing of painful signals by the spinal cord and brain (as in the case of complex regional pain syndrome , postherpetic neuralgia or so-called phantom limb pain).
The symptoms of neuropathic pain are described as a burning sensation, stinging, shock, and needles. Often there is hypersensitivity to touch or cold, tingling or numbness in the affected area.
It can be continuous or appear at intervals, ranging from weak to unbearable—according to the stage of the disease and the patient’s clinical condition. Thus, there are different types of neuropathic pain:
- Mononeuropathy, when only one nerve was affected, resulting in well-localized pain;
- Multiple mononeuropathy, when there is the involvement of more than one nerve, generating pain in more than one region;
- Polyneuropathic, when multiple nerves have been damaged, causing widespread pain in the arms, legs and trunk at the same time.
The diagnosis of neuropathic pain is based on clinical examinations, anamnesis, physical examinations, and sensitive, quantitative tests (non-invasive). In addition, the specialist pain doctor may order additional tests, such as blood tests, MRI, nerve conduction studies, and electromyography.
What are the diseases and related factors?
The causes of neuropathic pain are diverse. Often, the patient has comorbidities that, at certain stages, can affect the nerves:
- diabetes mellitus (in a degenerative stage);
- infectious diseases caused by viruses or bacteria;
- multiple sclerosis;
- carpal tunnel syndrome;
- trigeminal neuralgia, etc.
Trauma resulting from accidents or surgeries, when not properly treated, are also factors associated with the onset of nerve damage. Other risk factors are alcoholism and nutrient deficiency, as both impair nerve function.
What are the treatments for neuropathic pain relief and control?
In America, neuropathic pain affects 15% of patients who seek a specialist to treat some pain. Treatments can be pharmacological, non-pharmacological, or interventional, varying depending on the patient’s need and stage of the disease.
The purpose of treatment is aimed at controlling and relieving pain. But often, in addition to treating the nerve, it is necessary to treat the associated comorbidity(s).
Thus, the patient has a considerable improvement in functional capacity, as well as in the quality of sleep and even in self-esteem.
Check out the possible treatments below.
Nerve blockage interrupts the passage through the venous route that is transmitting or potentiating pain signals. The technique is indicated for people with intense and persistent symptoms.
The procedure can be done with the injection of an anesthetic or other substances. He is usually guided by ultrasound, which allows the doctor to see exactly which nerves need to be treated.
Physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy, among other therapies, are part of the treatment for neuropathic pain. These practices encourage the patient to move the affected part in order to avoid muscle atrophy, preserve or increase range of motion, and reduce sensitivity.
Transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS)
Weak electrical stimuli may be indicated to treat some types of neuropathic pain. The “cuttles” are transmitted through electrodes placed along the spinal cord.
Now that you know the path from diagnosis to treatment of neuropathic pain don’t delay in seeking help. As complex as it is, with the help of a multidisciplinary team, it is possible to control the disorder and restore quality of life!
If you are in pain but still haven’t found relief, don’t give up hope.
Instead, get in touch with Dr. Munish Lal ask your questions about it!