Neuropathic Pain
(Nerve Pain)

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What is neuropathic pain?

When the sensory system is impacted by injury or disease, the nerves within that system cannot work to transmit sensation to the brain. This often leads to a sense of numbness, or lack of sensation. However, in some cases when this system is injured, individuals experience pain in the affected region. Neuropathic pain does not start abruptly or resolve quickly; it is a chronic condition which leads to persistent pain symptoms. For many patients, the intensity of their symptoms can wax and wane throughout the day. Although neuropathic pain is thought to be associated with peripheral nerve problems, such as neuropathy caused by diabetes or spinal stenosis, injuries to the brain or spinal cord can also lead to chronic neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain can be contrasted to nociceptive pain, which is the type of pain which occurs when someone experiences an acute injury, such as smashing a finger with a hammer or stubbing a toe when walking barefoot. This type of pain is typically short-lived and usually quite responsive to common pain medications in contrast to neuropathic pain.

What are the risk factors for neuropathic pain?

Anything that leads to loss of function within the sensory nervous system can cause neuropathic pain. As such, nerve problems from carpal tunnel syndrome or similar conditions can trigger neuropathic pain. Trauma, causing nerve injury, can lead to neuropathic pain. Other conditions which can predispose patients to developing neuropathic pain include diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, cancer, HIV, stroke, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and cancer treatments.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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Neuropathic Pain - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment did you have for neuropathic pain?
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Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

What are treatment options for a patient with diabetic neuropathy?

There are newer medications on the market that may be of benefit called duloxetine (Cymbalta) and Lyrica. You should speak with your doctor about the possibility of trying these agents either alone or in combination with other medication.


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