Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain is a different type of pain which can be a challenge to treat, and can sometimes take longer to settle when compared to pain arising from muscles and joints (nociceptive). Nerve pain is characterised as any injury that directly effects the central and peripheral nervous system (brain, spinal cord and the nerves that exit).
Recent evidence has shown that up to 25% of people with chronic pain have elements of nerve pain. As management and treatment is often different for neuropathic pain, it is essential to identify early-on whether your pain is originating from the nervous system.
What are some of the common symptoms of nerve pain?
* Shooting, stabbing, electric, burning pain
* Tingling, numbness or prickling down the legs or arm
* Gradual weakness of the legs or arm that is not due to pain
* Pain often worse in the cold
* Pain spreading all the way down the legs or arm
* Noticeable pain at night
What causes nerve pain?
Any trauma that affects the nervous system has the potential to cause nerve pain. This can range from repetitive micro-trauma such as sitting with a poor posture over a long period of time, to a single trauma, such as a car accident. If the cause is not addressed sufficiently, nerve pain can persist for months and affect the whole central nervous system. This can mean otherwise pain-free sensations become painful. For example, for someone with nerve pain radiating down the arm, even gently brushing your arm against a sheet in bed can become uncomfortable!
How is nerve pain managed?
Physiotherapy can assist in identifying the cause, and alleviating tension off the nerve. In conjunction, often nerve pain will require certain medications to reduce the sensitivity and associated pain. Occasionally surgery may be required if the nerve irritation or compression is severe and does not respond to Physiotherapy.