Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic Pain refers to any form of pain caused by damage or disease to nerves, causing pain signals to be sent to the brain. It can occur in any part of the body. It is estimated that around 7 in 100 people in the UK may suffer from Chronic Neuropathic Pain.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Neuropathic Pain can vary significantly, depending on the patient and which nerve(s) are affected. However, there are several symptoms that may be an early indicator of Neuropathic Pain, including:

  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Stabbing or shooting pains
  • Unexplained aches
  • A sensation of pins and needles

Other forms of pain can also be linked to Neuropathic Pain. These can include:

  • Allodynia – where pain is caused by something that would not usually cause pain (e.g., certain movements, sights or sounds)
  • Hyperalgesia – An exaggerated response to pain caused by something that would usually cause mild pain.
  • Paraesthesia – Painful or unpleasant sensations in the absence of a stimulus (e.g., pins and needles)

Cause and treatment

There can be a number of causes for neuropathic pain which may affect the way in which symptoms are presented. Some common causes associated with Neuropathic Pain are:

  • Systemic conditions - Diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, renal disease, rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer, or Multiple Sclerosis
  • Infections - Shingles or HIV
  • Nutritional deficiencies/toxins - Alcohol excess, vitamin B12 deficiency or chemotherapy
  • Trauma/compression – Nerve compression/entrapment/injury, trigeminal neuralgia
  • Others – Complex regional pain syndrome, phantom limb syndrome, spinal cord injury, stroke

A combination of treatments is often needed for the management of Neuropathic Pain. This can often require from a number of medical professionals and can include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychological therapies
  • Modifications to home and work environment

Over-the-counter painkillers (e.g., paracetamol, ibuprofen) rarely have an effect on Neuropathic Pain. The recommended first-line medical treatment for Neuropathic Pain usually includes antidepressants or anti-epileptics.

Medical Cannabis and Neuropathic Pain

Medical cannabis products may be useful in the treatment of neurological pain if other first-line options have failed to offer relief. There is growing evidence to support the potential of cannabinoid-based medicines in pain relief which may be effectively utilised in the treatment of some forms of Neuropathic Pain.

Our specialist physicians are experienced in assessing individual cases and helping to determine whether medical cannabis could be an effective option.

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