Selecting the Right Treatment Course for Neuropathic Pain

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Neuropathic or nerve pain is caused by the damage caused to nerves by a variety of known causes. Managing chronic neuropathic pain includes both relieving the symptoms—usually through painkillers or alternate methods—and addressing the causes of nerve damage tied to the pain.  

Also known as nerve pain, neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that develops from injuries to the nervous system. Chronic neuropathic pain has been tied to several conditions known to cause nerve tissue injury. Patients with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, shingles, and syphilis have been known to develop neuropathic pain, as do people with herniated discs, spinal cord compression, and major injuries in the hip, leg, and lower back regions.

An understanding of the underlying neurology behind neuropathic pain plays a key role in managing its occurrence. Patients in St. George and other parts of Utah can rely on the expertise of specialist physicians to help them manage both their everyday pain and the factors that could aggravate or worsen it.

Evaluating the Cause

Before proceeding with a course of treatment, physicians would typically assess the nature of the patient’s recurring pain, which would not only include learning about any prior conditions they may have had but also analyzing how the patients perceive their pain. Among these questions include both the intensity of the pain they feel and the nature of how they feel it (e.g., whether they feel shooting pain or if any action or movement trigger their pain). Nerve tests are often performed to determine the nature of the pain.

Other signs that point to chronic neuropathic pain include a loss of function associated with the pain. Often, patients would find the pain so unbearable that they lose part of their range of motion, which often triggers their pain.

A variety of other symptoms can be used to pinpoint the root cause behind neuropathic pain, which often involves blood tests and physical examinations to determine possible causes.

Addressing the Symptoms

To provide relief for the patient, they are often prescribed a painkiller, which includes anticonvulsant and antidepressant medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The strength of the painkiller depends heavily on the severity of the perceived pain. Because these medications often come with side effects, patients need to discuss their treatment options at length.

Especially difficult-to-treat pain, on the other hand, may require the surgical implantation to manage the pain through electrical stimulation. Because this and other methods such as targeted drug delivery are invasive, they are often sought as a last resort.

Sometimes, neuropathic pain responds well to alternative methods, which can provide patients with lasting relief that matches that of more potent medications without the same side effects and health risks. Therapies known to aid in pain management include physical therapy and massage therapy.

Managing the Risk Factors

When managing chronic pain, the end goal is to address its underlying cause to mitigate its progression and in some circumstances, reverse its impact. In many instances, managing the risk factors often play a key role in long-term pain management. Managing the disorder often helps alleviate the pain while preventing the progression of further nerve damage that could cause the pain to recur.

Diabetes patients, for instance, may see a remarkable improvement in their pain management when their treatments coincide with better blood sugar management. Patients with injuries like carpal tunnel or herniated discs should see their pain decrease as these issues are resolved or managed.