Causes, symptoms, and treatment of neuropathy pain
Neuropathic pain is often a burning and shooting pain related to the nerves. Its causative factor is nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. The affected nerves do not carry the impulses resulting in numbness. The pain follows an up and down cycle, with a change in intensity. Neuropathic pain is also caused due to peripheral nerve problems, such as spinal stenosis or diabetic neuropathy. Spinal and brain injuries can also lead to chronic neuropathic pain.
A combination of various symptoms is what helps doctors to find the origin of the pain. Based on an assessment of neuropathy pain, treatment options are weighed. There are only a few objective signs that patients exhibit. An analysis of the extent of pain and its nature, as described by the patient is what helps the doctor identify the condition.
The pain can turn out to be sharp, tingling, burning, stinging, hot, cold, itchy, deep or sensitive. Some experience pain when the affected area is touched or pressure is applied. Tools such as visual scale and numeric graph help to understand the severity of the pain to help with diagnosis and neuropathy pain treatment. Description of pain, underlying health conditions, and a physical examination will help to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
While there is no obvious cause for a person to suffer from neuropathic pain, conditions listed below are contributing causes for neuropathic pain.
- Multiple myeloma
- HIV infection/AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Vitamin deficiency
- Facial nerve problems
- Thyroid disorders
- Spinal cord or nerve compression due to spinal arthritis or herniated disc
- Spine surgery
Neuropathy Pain Treatment
The first line of treatment is antidepressant and anticonvulsant drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs offer neuropathy pain relief. In case of severe pain, a strong painkiller is recommended after consultation with a doctor.
If the cause of neuropathy pain is an existing condition such as diabetes, diabetes management helps to alleviate neuropathic pain. Conditions that do not respond to medication can enlist the help of pain specialists. Invasive or implantable devices help in pain management, The pain symptoms can be effectively controlled through electrical stimulation of the affected nerves.
Other effective neuropathy pain treatment options include acupuncture, massage, relaxation therapy, and working with a counselor.
Peripheral neuropathy or neuropathy in feet is a very common condition. More common among older adults, diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy. Other causes include heredity, AIDS, chemotherapy, vitamin B12 deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, radiation exposure, trauma, kidney failure, and scleroderma.
The symptoms exhibited by patients differ, based on which peripheral nerve is affected. If the sensory nerves have suffered a damage, symptoms manifest as:
- Burning sensation
- Sensitive skin
- In case the motor nerves are damaged, symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of sensation in feet
- Dizziness while standing – in diabetics
- Fall in blood pressure – in diabetics
- Intestinal problems – in diabetics
So, it is very evident that the risk of peripheral neuropathy is very high in diabetics. The damage to the nerves is caused due to the changing blood-glucose levels, which impacts the metabolism of the nerve cells.
Common Neuropathies of the Feet
- Diabetic Sensory Neuropathy
Several nerves in the body are affected. However, the feet and extremities are more affected. At times, the nerves in the hand also suffer damage. Such neuropathic condition is brought about by uncontrolled diabetes and leads to loss of sensation. Symptoms such as burning and stinging pain are experienced both in the right as well as the left foot.
- Morton’s neuroma
It is also known as interdigital neuropathy. The nerves that are found between the toes, right at the point where the toes meet the feet, are affected. While the condition does not affect movement, there is a loss of sensation. The pain is felt while walking or standing, especially in the gap between the 3rd and 4th toes.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
The tibial nerve located at the inward rear portion of the ankle and the sole are affected by tarsal tunnel syndrome. Patients suffer from loss of sensation. Pain is experienced under the foot, along with the insides of the ankle, and in the arch. The pain gets unbearable when walking. The pain that is experienced is sharp and shooting, passing right down to the foot or up onto the lower leg.
- Treatment for neuropathy in feet
Identifying the underlying cause helps to find the right option for neuropathy pain treatment. If the cause is a vitamin deficiency, vitamin supplementation will help to mitigate the symptoms. Keeping your blood glucose levels under control is a big step towards managing diabetic neuropathy of the feet.
Reversing neuropathy or finding a cure for all types is difficult indeed. Reducing the symptoms does, in fact, offer a quantum relief to patients suffering from neuropathy.