Neuropathy and Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathy and Neuropathic Pain

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you may be getting injured. For example, if you touch a hot stove, pain signals let you know to move your hand away very quickly, so that you don’t get burned. This pain signal is sent to your brain by your nerves, which also let you feel temperature, touch, position, and pressure.

There are many diagnoses that can cause damage to your nerves directly, a condition called neuropathy:
• Auto-immune syndromes
• Diabetes
• Endocrine diseases
• Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Heavy alcohol use
• Hereditary diseases
• Infections (ex. shingles or Lyme disease)
• Kidney disease
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Thyroid problems
• Repetitive stress (ex. carpal tunnel syndrome)
• Toxins
• Trauma
• Tumors or cancer

Neuropathy can cause you to feel pain even when you are not being injured. This is called neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is often associated with:
• Burning, needle-like, stabbing, or tingling pain
• Feeling severe pain from things that normally don’t cause pain, such as laying under light bed sheets, wearing clothes, or a gentle touch
• Feeling worse at night
• Disruption of sleep
• Significant emotional burden

The nerves throughout your body, outside of your brain and spinal cord, are called peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves have the ability to regenerate, which reduces damage and pain. This means that there are things that you can do on your own to improve neuropathic pain, by helping your body to regenerate the nerves:
• Obtain treatment for the underlying condition
• Strictly control blood glucose levels in the case of diabetic neuropathy
• Limit or avoid alcohol
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Eat a balanced diet, including all essential vitamins and minerals
• Exercise to reduce cramps, improve muscle strength, and prevent muscle wasting
• Stop smoking: Smoking constricts blood flow to nerves and can worsen neuropathic pain
• Treat injuries and wounds quickly and carefully
• Mild pain may sometimes be alleviated by over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ex. Advil or Aleve)
• Use orthopedic shoes or braces

In some cases, neuropathic pain may be very severe or difficult to manage, even with treatment of the underlying condition and lifestyle changes. These are the cases in which the Neurological experts at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions can help.
There are several classes of medications that may be prescribed for neuropathic pain, which have been shown to provide relief:
• Topical creams
• Antidepressants
• Anticonvulsants
• Antiarrythmics
• Opioids

The doctors at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions may refer you to pain management physicians to discuss complementary treatments that may provide additional support and pain relief:
• Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
• Nerve blocks
• Spinal Cord Stimulator

If you suffer from neuropathy, you are not alone. It is a common condition, with more than 20 million cases nationwide. The experts at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions are here to help!

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