Neuropathic Pain

What is neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain occurs when the nervous system is damaged or working incorrectly, causing pain in parts of the nervous system, including the peripheral nerves, the brain, and the spinal cord.

Neuropathic pain is usually a chronic condition that results from progressive nerve disease. It may also occur from infection or injury. Neuropathic pain generally occurs in flare-ups, which may appear at any time, even without a pain-inducing factor or event.

Neuropathic pain is often described as a shooting or burning pain. It may also present as numbness or loss of sensation.

Some causes of neuropathic pain include:

  • Disease (e.g., multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, alcoholism)
  • Cancer treatment
  • Injuries to the muscles, tissue, or joints
  • Infections (e.g., syphilis, shingles)
  • Spinal nerve inflammation or compression
  • Limb loss
  • Thyroid problems

How does neuropathic pain affect healthcare?

As a type of chronic condition, neuropathic pain can significantly impact the well-being of those affected. In addition to causing spontaneous pain, neuropathic pain can affect sleep, cause emotional problems, and lead to chronic sensations of unpleasant feelings.

Treatment for neuropathic pain first involves identifying the cause of the pain. Common treatments include: