Neuralgia means a sudden sharp, shooting or stabbing pain down a damaged or malfunctioning nerve. This nerve pain follows the path of a nerve and can be intermittent or constant.
Neuralgia is caused by some sort of irritation or damage to a nerve. And neuropathic pain differs from neuritis in that there’s no nerve tissue inflammation nor degeneration. However, neuritis can be a cause for your nerve pain.
The hallmark symptom of neuralgia is sharp, shooting pain. You may also experience some of these symptoms along with your nerve pain:
- painful movement
- burning sensation
- electric-like spasms
- increased skin sensitivity
- any touch, pressure causes pain
- numbness of surrounding skin area
- muscle weakness caused by motor nerve damage
- impaired body part function serviced by irritated nerve
Your neuropathic pain symptoms depend on the location of the nerve irritation.
Frequently, the cause for nerve pain is difficult to discover. Some of the suspected causes of neuralgia include:
- poor diet
- tooth decay
- certain drugs
- extreme cold
- pinched nerve
- trauma ~ surgery
- chemical irritation
- back, leg, hip problems
- chronic renal insufficiency
- pressure on nerve ~ tumors, inflammation
- neurological disorder ~ multiple sclerosis, headache
- latent infections ~ shingles, syphilis, Lyme disease, HIV
In many cases, the cause of neuropathic pain may never be known.
Nerve pain is categorized into types based on the nerve affected or the reason for its irritation. A couple of neuralgia types are:
- sciatica ~ sciatic nerve irritation
- carpal tunnel syndrome ~ wrist pain
- trigeminal neuralgia ~ mouth area pain
- migrainous neuralgia ~ aka cluster headache
- glossopharyngeal neuralgia ~ tongue, throat, ear, tonsil, larynx pain
- postherpetic neuralgia ~ pain in shingles infection outbreak site following attack
Nerve pain is most common in the elderly, and the frequency of neuropathic pain often increases with age.
Treating nerve pain can be extremely challenging. Treatment considerations depend on the cause, location and severity of the pain. And sometimes neuropathic pain improves on its own without treatment.
OTC pain relievers are generally not sufficient relief for neuralgia. Narcotic pain relievers, i.e. codeine, offer some initial relief. But dosage increases make this remedy unreasonable for the long term.
Medications used for other health conditions have afforded some relief treatment to those with neuropathic pain, such as
- serotonin & norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRIs)
- tricyclic antidepressants ~ amitriptyline, nortriptyline, duloxitine
- epileptic, seizure treatment drugs ~ carbamazepine, gabapentin, lamotrigine, phenytoin
Some other forms of nerve pain abatement treatment used involve:
- applying heat
- physical therapy
- topical anesthetics
- nutritional improvement
- botox & anesthetic injections
- antiviral medication for shingles
- rub on creams containing capsaicin
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- strict control of blood sugar if you’re adiabetic
- surgical procedures that reduce feeling in your nerve
- surgery to remove tumor or free nerve from pressure source
- deaden nerve with gamma rays, radio frequency waves, glycerol injections, novocaine, alcohol
Unfortunately, a couple of these treatments can cause a loss of sensation or abnormal feelings.
You might be able prevent some nerve pain attacks by avoiding any triggers of your neuralgia, like extreme temps of food and drinks.