Painful Neuropathies And Nerve Injuries

Painful neuropathy is a neurological disorder where people experience chronic pain due to nerve damage. Nerves connect the spinal cord to the body and help the brain communicate with skin, muscles, and internal organs.

What causes painful neuropathy?

Painful neuropathies are caused by damage to the nerves. This damage may be a result of:

  • Diabetes
  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Alcoholism
  • Toxins
  • Chemotherapy
  • Infections
  • Autoimmunity
  • Illnesses, such as kidney failure or cancer
  • Trauma of the nerves

What are the symptoms of painful neuropathy?

Although there are many different causes of painful neuropathies, they have common symptoms, such as:

  • Stabbing or sharp pain
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Pain from activities that are normally painless (such as being touched with a feather)

What is the treatment for painful neuropathy?

There’s some evidence that early treatment, within the first few months of symptoms, might help improve complex regional pain syndrome symptoms. Often, a combination of different treatments, tailored to your specific case, is necessary. Treatment options include:

Medications

  • Pain relievers. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) — may ease mild pain and inflammation.
  • Antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Sometimes antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, and anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), are used to treat pain that originates from a damaged nerve (neuropathic pain).
  • Corticosteroids. Steroid medications, such as prednisone, may reduce inflammation and improve mobility in the affected limb.
  • Bone-loss medications. Your doctor may suggest medications to prevent or stall bone loss, such as alendronate (Fosamax) and calcitonin (Miacalcin).
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking medication. Injection of an anesthetic to block pain fibers in the affected nerves may relieve pain in some people.

Therapies

  • Heat therapy. Applying heat may offer relief of swelling and discomfort on skin that feels cool.
  • Topical analgesics. Various topical treatments are available that may reduce hypersensitivity, such as over-the-counter capsaicin cream, or lidocaine cream or patches.
  • Physical therapy. Gentle, guided exercising of the affected limbs might help decrease pain and improve range of motion and strength. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more effective exercises might be.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Chronic pain is sometimes eased by applying electrical impulses to nerve endings.
  • Spinal cord stimulation. Your doctor inserts tiny electrodes along your spinal cord. A small electrical current delivered to the spinal cord results in pain relief.
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