Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is a painful sensation that occurs due to damaged or abnormally working nerves. It may also occur because of abnormalities in the central nervous system's interpretation of the signals it is receiving from these nerves. The pain may be long-lasting.

  • Causes

    This condition may caused by damaged nerve fibers that send pain signals to your brain. This can happen even when there is no event to trigger the pain. For example, a person with neuropathic pain may have a feeling of pins and needles when putting on socks.

    Nerve damage may be caused by:

    • Physical damage
    • Chemicals
    • The nerve not getting the vital nutrients needed to function
    • Infection
    • The body’s immune system attacking the nerves

    Sometimes the cause of the nerve pain is unknown.

  • Definition

    Neuropathic pain is a painful sensation that occurs due to damaged or abnormally working nerves. It may also occur because of abnormalities in the central nervous system's interpretation of the signals it is receiving from these nerves. The pain may be long-lasting.

    Nervous System
    CNS and PNS
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the nervous system. This doctor will do a neurological exam and other tests.

    Depending on your condition, you may also be referred to a pain specialist who can help you manage your pain.

  • Prevention

    You can reduce your chance of developing neuropathic pain by getting proper treatment for any chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

  • Risk Factors

    Certain conditions increase your risk of getting neuropathic pain, such as:


    • Diabetes—diabetic neuropathy
    • Poor glucose tolerance, also known as pre-diabetes

    • Shingles—
      post-herpetic neuralgia
    • HIV infection—HIV sensory neuropathy
    • Amputation—phantom limb pain
    • Alcoholism
    • Vitamin deficiency
    • Spinal cord disorder or injury
    • Cancer
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Conditions that are present at birth

    Other risk factors include:

    • Back surgery
    • Chemotherapy
    • Exposure to toxins or metals
    • Certain medications

  • Symptoms

    Neuropathic pain may cause sensations of:

    • Burning
    • Stabbing
    • Electrical shock
    • Pins and needles/tingling
    • Numbness

    This pain may be constant or occur off and on during the day. The condition can get in the way of daily activities, including sleep. In some cases, even the touch of a bed sheet can cause pain.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include: