Neural pain effects peripheral nerves outside the central nervous system. The chronic pain is often accompanied by soft tissue damage, where nerve fibers may be injured, sending false signals from peripheral nerves back to the pain centers of the central nervous system.
This pain can be accompanied by tingling, weakness or numbness in the path of the affected nerve. Frequently, neural pain injuries follow trauma or repetitive use injuries such as tennis or golfers elbow.
Neural pain is also linked to phantom limb syndrome—a condition where an arm or leg has been removed due to injury or illness, yet the brain still receives messages from the nerves which once carried impulses from the limb.
Common Sources of Neural Pain
Along with other side effects, pain from chemotherapy may not be alleviated, but it can be managed. Pain from chemotherapy may show as headaches, stomach aches, muscle aches or nerve pain. Though pain associated with chemo generally lessens over time, some people have permanent nerve damage requiring constant management.
Diabetes pain is a peripheral neuropathy. This means the pain is most often felt in the peripheral nerves, in the feet and hands. The pain generally builds over time as the symptoms of the disease worsen and often doesn’t show until permanent damage has already been done.
Shingles is a viral infection of nerve roots. Anyone who has been diagnosed with chickenpox or received the vaccine, is potentially at risk. The virus never goes away and can lay dormant for decades. It shows as a rash with itching, tingling and pain at the site of the rash. The pain can be mild to excruciating and though some only feel its effects for a short time, many others deal with the pain for the rest of their lives.
Though Multiple Sclerosis effects people many different ways, one of the most common effects is acute burning or aching pain around the body. Pain will most often affect the hands and feet, but has been known to also resonate in the arms and trunk of the body.
MS may also cause chronic pain. In the case of chronic pain, a prickling or “pins and needles” sensation may be felt around the body.
Treatment of Neural Pain
Treatment for Neural Pain varies according to the underlying cause. In the case of manageable conditions such as diabetes, treatment of the original condition is first optimized. Once testing has pinpointed the origination of the affected nerve pathways, those areas are specifically targeted. Oral medications may be prescribed, injection of pain medications administered, or in the case of severe pain conditions, implantable pain pumps may be used. An approach to pain management has been found to be highly effective, where physical therapy and rehabilitation are combined with administration of medication.