Neuropathic Pain

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is a chronic state of pain caused by a damage in the nervous system. The pain is related to the pathology of the nerves.

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, IASP, neuropathic pain is a result of partial damage or function impairment of the peripheral or central nervous system or changes in stimulability.

What is the difference between Neuropathic pain and regular pain?

In regular (nociceptive) pain, a tissue damage causing pain does not occur. While regular pain is cured when stimulus is removed, neuropathic pain can persist independently from stimuli. The pain is related to nerve pathologies and is usually chronic.

What are the symptoms of Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is characterized by different and uncomfortable sensations. Patients describe sensations of burning, stinging, famication, freezing, stabbing or electric shock.

Pain can be persistent and repetitive. It might last for days, seconds, minutes and can occur several times a day. Burning type pain especially in diabetic neuropathic cases escalates at night. Intermittent pain might occur for shorter or longer periods of time depending on the case.

The pain does not respond to usual pain killers.

In neuropathic pain patients, the pain is accompanied by sleep disorders, anxiety and lack of energy. Sleep disorders are observed in more than 70% of chronic pain cases.

What is the prevalence of Neuropathic Pain?

It usually occurs in 15 people out of 1000.

When is Neuropathic Pain Observed?

There are many factors that might cause neuropathic pain including alcoholism, cancer, certain neurological or vascular diseases, nerve compression, certain infectious diseases such as shingles, kidney failure and diabetes.

How is Neuropathic Pain diagnosed?

The diagnosis requires a detailed patient history, physical examination, electromyographic imaging in addition to blood tests in order to check for nerve damages and short surveys to measure pain levels.

How is Neuropathic Pain treated?

It requires a multi-dimensional approach. The main objective is to alleviate the pain and improve life quality. For all types of chronic pain, in addition to alleviating the pain,  the main goal should be to improve all components of life quality including sleep, emotions, ability to work and maintain social relations.

Due to the impairment of nerve cells, neuropathic pain does not respond to ordinary pain killers. In addition to specific mediations, surgery or psychological interventions to reduce stress can be recommended. Moreover, the underlying cause for neuropathic pain should be treated. For instance, if diabetes is causing neuropathic pain, it is imperative to keep the patient's blood sugar level under control.

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