What is neuropathic pain?

Defined as pain1 resulting from a lesion or disease that directly affects the nervous system, neuropathic pain is a term used for describing a group of conditions with various causes and different pain distributions.Neuropathic pain occurring anywhere in the body may have been caused by the peripheral nervous system, central nervous system, or autonomic nervous system.

How does neuropathic pain differ from normal pain?

Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nerves in the nervous system, usually without tissue damage or other causes that can trigger pain. Tissues are in a normal state. Pain arises from pathology in the nerves and is often chronic; it does not respond to conventional painkillers. In pain types other than neuropathic pain, that is nociceptive pain, tissue damage is what triggers the pain. Such pain is alleviated when tissue damage is eliminated.

Which conditions can cause neuropathic pain?

Numerous pathologies of the central and peripheral nervous system can cause neuropathic pain. Diabetes, cancer and its treatment, infections, medication, peripheral nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, vascular problems and surgical lesions are some of the most common causes.

What are the symptoms of neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain is characterized by various disturbing sensations such as burning, stinging, freezing, tingling and electric shock.An abnormal pain may occur as a result of a situation that would not normally cause pain, or even a light touch.

In patients with neuropathic pain, the pain is accompanied by sleep disorders, anxiety, and energy loss. 68% of patients with neuropathic pain report "strongly" or "mostly" disrupted sleep. 4

Neuropathic pain creates a significant negative impact on quality of life and daily activitieswith its disturbing symptoms and accompanying conditions, and thus has an adverse impact on life quality. 6

How should neuropathic pain be treated?

Neuropathic pain does not respond to conventional painkillers, and a neurologist should plan the treatment.

1. Treede RD, Neurology 2008;70:1582-1583

2. Nanna B. Finnerup et al., Neuropathic pain: an updated grading system for research and clinical practice, Pain, August 2016·Volume 157·Number 8

3. Marcus DA. Chronic Pain. 2005:111-128.

4. Strambi Lfet al., Neuropathic Pain and Sleep: A Review, Pain Ther (2017) 6 (Suppl 1):S19–S23

5.Danielle Reddi., Chronic pain after surgery: pathophysiology, risk factors and prevention, Postgrad Med J 2014;90:222–227.

6.Wright Megan E., An update on the pharmacologic management and treatment of neuropathic pane, 2017

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