Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that can range from discomfort to severe burning or shooting pain. Finding the right pain management plan comes from identifying the underlying issue and addressing it accordingly. Banner Health can work with you to design the right pain management plan for you to alleviate symptoms and manage flare-ups.
There are a number of factors that can lead to neuropathic pain but the underlying cause is damage to the sensory system as a result of illness or injury. Problems with the peripheral nerve from conditions like diabetes or spinal stenosis can lead to neuropathic pain. The condition can also come from injuries to the brain or spinal cord.
Diagnosis of neuropathic pain starts with a thorough physical and mental exam. To diagnose neuropathic pain, your doctor will start with your complete medical history, looking for factors that can lead to the condition. Nerve testing and evaluation can be done to determine if nerve damage is leading to pain. If neuropathic pain is suspected, blood tests can be performed to determine if you have any vitamin deficiency or thyroid problems and to rule out other possible conditions.
A number of medications are used to treat neuropathic pain. Many of these medications were designed to treat other conditions but have been found to be helpful in the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Anti-epileptics or anticonvulsants are a group of medications used to treat epileptic seizures. They have also proven to be effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain. In severe cases, heart arrhythmias medication may be used, but they may lead to unwanted side effects.
Antidepressants have been widely used in the treatment of neuropathic pain for years thanks to their effectiveness in increasing neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that reduce pain signals. Antidepressants will take time to take effect. Expect to find some relief after a week, with maximum relief taking up to a month.
If another disorder is involved, such as diabetes, better management of that condition may also help with managing your pain.
Pain medication can also be used in a treatment plan. These can be effective in helping you to relax and to improve your sleep during periods of pain. They can also be helpful in reducing inflammation, especially Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Speaking with your doctor is important before using any over-the-counter medications to avoid any side effects from mixing medications.
Most neuropathic pain patients will be able to find some measure of relief. Neuropathic pain isn’t necessarily dangerous but chronic pain can affect your quality of life. It is possible to cure neuropathic pain and the damaged nerves can regenerate but only through addressing the underlying cause and following a long-term care plan.
If you are suffering from neuropathic pain, talk to your doctor about the best options to help manage your neuropathic pain symptoms.