Nerve pain is almost always a chronic pain, and is a very complex condition. Most people develop it as a result of injury to the tissue, when nerve fibers become injured, dysfunctional, or damaged. Once the nerves are damaged, the messages they send to the pain centers are disrupted.
Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain, can have a range of different causes. Unfortunately, in many cases, there seems to be no obvious cause for nerve pain. However, below are the most common clear causes of the condition.
Alcohol is a toxic substance and can damage nerve tissue. If people drink too much, they may start to notice tingling sensations and pain in their limbs. This is called 'alcoholic neuropathy'.
People who suffer from this have had damage to their peripheral nerves due to over-consumption of alcohol. The peripheral nerve is responsible for sending signals through the brain, spinal cord, and body.
In order for nerves to function properly, the body requires vitamin E, vitamins B6 and B12, niacin, folate, and thiamine. When someone drinks too much alcohol, the levels of these nutrients become affected, and this in turn can make alcoholic neuropathy spread.
Luckily, by abstaining from alcohol, nutritional health can be restored, which can improve nerve function depending on the level of damage. It will certainly prevent further damage from occurring. Unfortunately, some damage will be permanent.
Nerve pain after amputation is known as phantom limb pain. This can be mild to extreme and is felt in the area where the limb has been removed. Usually, these sensations decrease or even disappear with time. However, if it continues for a period of longer than six months, it is unlikely for the sensations to improve at all.
When someone has an amputation, the limb is no longer there, but nerve endings at the amputation site itself continue to send signals to the brain. As a result, the brain thinks the limb is still in place. The brain can also retain memories of pain, interpreting it as current pain, regardless of whether the injured nerves send in signals.
Sciatica is a symptom of a nerve condition. It usually starts in the buttocks and hips, traveling down the leg. Usually, people also experience pain in the lower back, which can be worse than the pain in the leg. Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve, which is the one that travels from the lower back down into the buttocks and then the legs, is damaged.
Sciatica is an overused term, often used to describe back pain. In true sciatica, however, the osteoarthritic bone or a herniated disc pinch or compress part of the sciatic nerve's roots. This is uncommon and is different from general back pain. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to distinguish back pain from sciatica.
Medical professionals are constantly trying to improve treatment and therapy for cancer. Unfortunately, the side effects of these treatments continue to exist. Cancer cells can be killed by chemotherapy, but the side effects of this treatment include nerve damage across the body. This is known as chemo induced peripheral neuropathy. Not everybody will develop this, although the type of medication and the dosage often determines the likelihood.
Over the years of having diabetes, many people develop nerve pain. When it first starts, it is often asymptomatic, after which some numbness or tingling in the feet can start. As the condition progresses, the pain may spread to the hands, and often starts to get worse, particularly at night. Once this happens, quite significant nerve damage has occurred. This can no longer be reversed, which is why it is so important to properly manage diabetes to stop nerve damage in the first place.
Facial nerve problems are known as 'tic douloureux', or 'trigeminal neuralgia'. Sufferers experience shooting, intermittent pain in the face. It occurs in the trigeminal nerve, which is one of the head's largest nerves, sending impulses of pain, touch, temperature, and pressure to the brain, from the jaw, face, forehead, gums, and around the eyes.
It is not believed that the HIV virus affects the nervous system's cells. However, the virus does cause a lot of inflammation, which in turn can cause damage to the brain and spinal cord, meaning that the nerve cells may no longer work properly. The virus can cause damage leading to neurological complications, but it can also be caused by other side effects of the illness, including cancer.
Neurological complications can also be caused by HIV/AIDS medications, which are necessary to slow down the spread of the condition. Genes seem to be one of the main factors to determine whether or not someone will develop neurological complications. Usually, these complications only happen in the advanced stages of HIV, when it has developed into AIDS. Around 50% of AIDS patients have neurological complications.
People with multiple sclerosis often develop pins and needles, prickling, aching, and burning sensations. Often, this is chronic and not acute. It is usually treated in the same way as acute dysesthesias, however.
Around one million people in this country develop shingles each year. Shingles is a viral infection that affects the roots of the nerves. The majority of people recover fully from the disease. However, in those over 60, particularly those who didn't seek treatment, around 50% experience permanent pain.
Sometimes, this can last a lifetime although, more commonly, it lasts for a few months or years. This pain is known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and is caused by the virus causing permanent damage to the skin's nerves. Sometimes, this pain is mild and more of an inconvenience than anything else. In some people, however, the pain can be so bad that even the touch of clothes becomes excruciating.
These are the nine most common types of nerve damage. If you suspect you have nerve damage, whether or not you have any of the conditions described above, you must seek medical attention. You may also want to try a nutritional supplement for neuropathy, which has been found to have several benefits, including reducing pain and numbness.