What is Neuropathic Pain?




Neuropathic pain, frequently referred to as “nerve pain,” is a common pain disorder that affects almost 1 in every 100 people. Usually neuropathic pain occurs as the result of damage to nerve fibers or the canals through which nerves pass. More than 100 complex types of neuropathic pain exist, with each kind progressing differently. The impairment of any component of the nervous system can have alarming and even life-threatening consequences, since our nerves are responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and various regions of the body. Our complex, interdependent nervous system enables us to perform everyday movements such as walking, running and other activities. If the nervous system begins to break down, the rest of our body is likely to follow suit.

Generally, nerve-related issues do not resolve on their own and instead require prompt, professional medical treatment. Because neuropathic pain frequently involves spine disorders like spinal or foraminal stenosis (the narrowing of nerve passageways in or around the spine), the treatment of neuropathic pain often depends upon alleviating any underlying conditions and restoring overall spine health. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE, our team of experienced specialists and knowledgeable surgeons regularly provide safe and effective solutions for individuals suffering from neuropathic pain. For many patients, a pain-free life is fully possible.

Causes

Neuropathic pain may be caused by a number of conditions, disorders and injuries. Some of the factors that commonly contribute to temporary or chronic neuropathic pain include:

  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Foraminal stenosis (the obstruction of the passageways through which peripheral nerves branch away from the spinal column)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Stroke
  • Smoking
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Amputation
  • Back, leg and hips problems
  • Age (the elderly are more likely to encounter neuropathic pain)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes
  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Shingles
  • Benign or cancerous tumors
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sudden trauma, such as that which might occur during a fall, motor vehicle accident or high-impact sport
  • Vitamin deficiencies, specifically a lack of B12 or B1 (thiamine)
  • Lack of exercise
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Degenerative changes to the spinal column, including herniated or protruding discs
  • Repetitive movements, such as those that might occur at a job requiring physical labor or regular long-distance driving

Many of the underlying causes of neuropathic pain are easily treatable, while others require more extensive care. To rule out dangerous conditions and obtain optimal healing, it is important to speak with a specialist without delay.

Symptoms

Neuropathic pain itself is usually a symptom of another condition. However, neuropathic pain is commonly associated with:

  • Aching, sharp, “itchy” or burning pain that travels along the length of an affected nerve
  • Numbness, tingling and shock-like/“pins-and-needles” sensations
  • The feeling that arms, legs, hands or feet are “falling asleep”
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble with motor function, which may become more noticeable when looping buttons through holes or attempting to write by hand
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Heightened sensitivity and a feeling of pressure, even in response to stimuli as light as cloth fabric

Episodes of neuropathic pain may last from a few seconds to several minutes. Some patients encounter such debilitating pain that they are unable to attend scheduled activities or participate in daily routines.

If neuropathic pain is accompanied by fever or incontinence of the bladder or bowels, call 911 immediately. These symptoms may indicate a medical emergency.

Oftentimes, patients experience neuropathic pain but have trouble pinpointing the precise origination of their discomfort. Through advanced pain-mapping techniques, our team members are usually able to pinpoint the exact path of a patient’s symptoms. This state-of-the-art technology often leads to a more complete diagnosis and pain relief that extends beyond a temporary fix.

Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

Neuropathic complications often cause chronic, stubborn pain. If you are suffering from this type of discomfort, there is hope. Through personalized, patient-centric care and innovative treatment, the team of experts at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® has helped many patients achieve full recovery from neuropathic pain.

When patients experience neuropathic pain, our first goal is to ascertain the discomfort’s underlying cause. During your initial consultation at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, one of our acclaimed physicians will analyze your medical history, physical state and symptoms. To assess the possibility of certain conditions like cancer or stenosis, an imaging test such as a CT scan or X-ray may be requested or performed on-site. In specific instances, a blood test or nerve biopsy might be used to determine the nature of nerve abnormalities. When a comprehensive diagnosis has been reached, we will create a treatment plan to meet your individual needs and preferences.

The treatment of neuropathic pain depends almost entirely upon the condition or injury that is causing the discomfort. However, the following non-invasive methods of care are commonly implemented to address neuropathic pain:

  • Physical therapy and specialized exercises
  • Injections of powerful pain-relieving agents to the affected area or to the facet joints
  • Muscle relaxation techniques
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Lifestyle changes, including avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, losing extra pounds and eating a balanced diet

If conservative treatments are deemed ineffective or the cause of a patient’s neuropathic pain requires immediate intervention, minimally invasive surgery may be necessary. When compared to traditional open surgery options, minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures offer many benefits, including:

  • Significantly smaller incisions
  • Less potential for blood loss or scarring
  • Minimal trauma to surrounding muscles and soft tissues
  • Quicker recovery times that allow patients to return more quickly to work and other daily responsibilities
  • Rapid pain relief

Because our surgeons are experienced in performing both traditional and minimally invasive procedures, we are able to provide whichever surgical approach will best resolve your case of neuropathic pain. Generally, the surgical method used will depend upon the specifications of the patient, as well as several determining medical factors such as excess weight or the presence of surgical adhesions (known as “scar tissue”) from a past surgery.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about neuropathic pain or the many conditions that Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® treats, please reach us directly by calling 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page. From diagnosis to post-treatment, we are committed to providing care that exceeds your expectations and restores your quality of life.

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