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Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nervous system or the nerves. Nerve damage is usually accompanied by tissue injury. Nerve fibres carry signals about pain, touch and temperature. Damage to the nerve fibres causes a disturbance in the the signals being sent out by the nerves. These signals are sent out to different body parts and may cause nerve pain in the arms, legs or other body parts.

Neuropathic pain can be divided into two types – nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.

Nociceptive pain – People experience nociceptive pain at some point in their lives. It is caused by damage to the tissues. It may be caused by external and internal factors. External factors include cuts, bruises, burns etc. Internal factors include tumour which causes pressure on the nerves from within the body.The affected nerve fibres soot out signals to the brain.

Neuropathic pain – Neuropathic pain can occur without any apparent damage to the nerves. The nerves shoot out signals of pain or irritation to the brain or other body parts. The pain is mostly experienced as:

  • Shooting
  • Stabbing
  • Aching
  • Like an electric shock or
  • Numbness

Causes
There is no particular cause for neuropathic pain. A few common causes include:

  • Amputation
  • Back problems
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Injury to the spine or spinal surgery
  • Shingles
  • Cancer
  • Other nerve disorders

Treatment
Treatment for neuropathic pain include:

  • Medicines
  • Physical treatment
  • Psychological treatment
  • Identifying and treating the underlying cause

Painkillers provide temporary pain relief and are not helpful for permanent cure. Anti-depressants and anticonvulsants ave sown to reduce nerve pain but more research needs to be done to confirm the effectiveness and side-effects.

Physical treatments like acupuncture, physiotherapy and nerve blocks help in reducing the pain and prevent re-occurrence.

Psychological treatment works best when it is combined with other forms of treatment. Stress management, proper counselling, cognitive behavior therapy and specialised pain management techniques ave shown to help people suffering with neuropathic pain.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor who would then ask you to undergo a series of check-ups to find the root-cause of the pain. Early diagnosis of the condition often helps in full recovery.

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