Nerve pain is a form of chronic pain that arises when there are problems with the signal processing of our nerves.
The nervous system is responsible for everything that our body does, and is an extremely complicated system that relays messages from the brain to the body and vice versa.
This is how we register when something is causing us pain, but in some cases there is a fault with the nerve and it registers pain even though nothing is causing it.
There is a range of causes for this, but it is typically quite different to the pain we experience if we injure or burn ourselves.
Nerve pain can rarely be eased through use of traditional painkillers and instead anti-depressants or anti-epileptic medicine is administered.
Understanding the Nervous System
If you wish to understand how nerve pain can come about, you first must understand the basic principals of the nervous system. The following are the three types of nerve found in the human body.
– Autonomic nerves control all the involuntary and partially voluntary activities of our body. This includes our heart and the rate at which it beats, our blood pressure, our digestive system and the regulation of body temperature.
– Motor nerves are responsible for our bodily movements and actions, and these nerves control the information that is passed from our brain to our spinal chord and finally to our muscles. Our motor nerves are extremely important.
– Sensory nerves control the information picked up by our skin and then transfer it back to our brain for processing. This information includes the temperature of the surrounding area, or if something is dangerous to our body and causing it pain.
Although nerve pain can be very mild, the fact that we are so reliant on our nervous system means that even the slightest nerve damage can have a massive impact on our daily lives.
Symptoms of Nerve Pain
People who suffer from nerve pain can experience a multitude of symptoms, but these symptoms will be reflective of the location of the damage nerve and its purpose.
– Autonomic nerve pain can result in a number of symptoms including an inability to sense a heart attack, angina or other form of warning chest pain. Individuals with autonomic nerve pain are prone to sweating too much or too little, and often report feeling extremely lightheaded.
Dehydration also becomes very apparent and individuals will experience a dry mouth and eyes, regardless how much fluid they drink. Autonomic nerve pain can also affect the bladder and bowels, resulting in constipation and ladder dysfunction. In some cases it can result in sexual dysfunction and a lack of libido.
– Motor nerve damage can cause the individual to experience weakness, muscle atrophy, periods of twitching and occasionally paralysis.
– Sensory nerve pain can result in phantom pains, which is pain that exists without a cause. People who suffer from sensory nerve pain often report feeling sensitivity or a burning sensation in a particular area. This can develop into more a severe pain, and they may also find that their positional awareness has been affected and compromised.
It is reported that more than 20 million Americans today suffer from some form of nerve pain, and this is a problem that becomes more frequent with age. There are over 100 different types of nerve damage, and many more causes for this condition.
One of the biggest causes of nerve damage is diabetes, which affects the peripheral nerves. The following are among the most common causes of nerve pain and damage.
– Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.
– Cancer can result in nerve damage, and radiotherapy can worsen the problem.
– Compression and trauma to the nerves will cause mild to moderate nerve pain.
– It is reported that around 50% of all people with diabetes suffer from nerve damage.
– Drug abuse and the side effect from taking strong prescription medicine.
– Infectious diseases such as HIV, herpes and hepatitis C.
Treatment for nerve pain generally involves a combination of different approaches. The first thing that must be done is the cause of the nerve damage must be identified and addressed. The treatment for the underlying health problem will depend on the cause itself.
After this is taken care of, the patient will most likely be prescribed some form of mediation to help them deal with the pain, although as stated previously this is generally an anti-depressant or anti-epileptic medicine rather than a traditional painkiller or anti-inflammatory.
The reason for this is because the chief problem is in the brain, where the information from the damaged nerve is being relayed. In addition to a prescribed medicine patients will most likely partake in physical treatments such as physiotherapy.
They will also be advised to complete psychological treatments. This is done to help the patient to deal with the stress and anxiety that can result from having this condition.
Nerve pain is an extremely common chronic pain condition that can have a very negative impact on the individual. Even the mildest form of nerve pain can make everyday activities seem like an impossible task, and the more severe cases can make people completely dependent on others.
Nerve damage can occur in one of the three types of nerves in our body, and the causes and results will vary greatly. It is extremely important to have any form of nerve pain examined by a medical professional immediately, as it is often a sign of something more serious.
Before the nerve pain can be treated, the Doctor must first deal with the cause of the damage. When this is done they can begin to treat the actual nerve damage.