What is neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain is a relatively common symptom that affects people of all ages.
This pain results from direct or indirect damage to the nerve endings, which precipitates a rich clinical presentation that consists of:
- Unusual sensations
- Low sensitivity to temperatures
- Burning pain
Most patients who complain of neuropathic pain state that their symptoms are symmetrical, meaning they affect both limbs (e.g., hands, feet). For this reason, doctors often refer to the distribution of neuropathic pain as a ‘glove and stocking pattern.
In the next sections, we will cover the symptoms, causes, and treatment options of neuropathic pain.
Signs and symptoms of neuropathic pain
The clinical presentation of neuropathic pain varies depending on the affected nerve and the degree of damage.
In general, a patient with neuropathic pain may also complain of one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Tingling in the extremities
- Loss of sensations in the hands or feet
- Loss of temperature sensation
- Weakened muscles of the arms and legs
- Dropping objects unconsciously
- Buzzing-like sensations in the arms and feet
Causes of neuropathic pain
The causes of neuropathic pain are diverse and include chronic diseases, infectious processes, and hereditary causes.
Here is a list of the most common causes of neuropathic pain:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Kidney damage
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g., Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12)
- Chronic Alcohol overuse
- Infectious diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Physical injury
Treatment of neuropathic pain
The treatment of neuropathic pain is highly dependent on the underlying disease.
For instance, if diabetes is causing your pain, the doctor will change your anti-diabetic medications and recommend a few lifestyle modifications to control it. Another example is a vitamin deficiency that could easily be corrected with supplements.
However, the following treatments are helpful regardless of the underlying disorder:
The first-line treatment is acetaminophen (Tylenol), which is effective with mild cases of neuropathic pain. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, aspirin) can also be used.
Unfortunately, these drugs carry some serious side effects if you take them for a long time or in large doses.
The next generation of drugs has more potent painkillers, including narcotics, antiepileptic drugs, and antidepressants.
Examples include tramadol, gabapentin, pregabalin (Lyrica®), amitriptyline, and duloxetine.
This is perhaps the vastest treatment approach to neuropathic pain.
People often report pain relief after:
- Chiropractic care
- Message therapy
- Cubbing therapy
- Mindfulness (e.g., yoga, meditation)
- Moderate exercise
- Reducing the intake of alcohol
- Ceasing smoking
Other beneficial tips to control neuropathic pain include wearing protective shoes, checking the temperature of water before bathing, and avoiding static positions for too long.
Neuropathic pain is an extremely common chief complaint. The complex nature and slow progression of this symptom make it very challenging to manage, especially when the patient is not compliant.
We hope that this article helped you grasp the basics of neuropathic pain. If you have any questions or concerns about neuropathic pain, please feel free to give SUPERIOR NEUROLOGY a call today at (469) 445-2445. You can also stop by our office located in Murphy, Tx here.