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:
- 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.