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Neuropathic Pain (Nerve Pain) (cont.)

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What causes neuropathic pain?

There are many reasons that patients may develop neuropathic pain. However, on a cellular level, one explanation is that an increased release of certain neurotransmitters which signal pain, combined with an impaired ability of the nerves to regulate these signals leads to the sensation of pain originating from the affected region. Additionally, in the spinal cord, the area which interprets painful signals is rearranged, with corresponding changes in neurotransmitters and loss of normally-functioning cell bodies; these alterations result in the perception of pain even in the absence of external stimulation. In the brain, the ability to block pain can be lost following an injury such as stroke or trauma. Over time, further cellular damage occurs and the sense of pain persists.

Neuropathic pain is associated with diabetes, chronic alcohol intake, certain cancers, vitamin B deficiency, infections, other nerve-related diseases, toxins, and certain drugs.

What are the signs and symptoms of neuropathic pain?

Unlike other neurological conditions, identification of neuropathic pain is hard. Few, if any, objective signs are present. Examiners have to decipher and interpret a collection of words that patients use to describe their pain. Patients may describe their symptoms as sharp, dull, hot, cold, sensitive, itchy, deep, stinging, burning, or some other descriptor. Additionally, some patients may feel pain with a light touch or pressure.

In an effort to help identify how much pain patients may be experiencing, different scales are often used. Patients are asked to rate their pain based on a visual scale or numeric graph. Many examples of pain scales exist. Often, pictures of faces depicting various degrees of pain can be helpful when patients have a difficult time describing the amount of pain they are experiencing.

Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for Pain
Visual analog scale (VAS) for pain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/11/2013

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Neuropathic Pain - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment did you have for neuropathic pain?
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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/neuropathic_pain_nerve_pain/article.htm

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