Nerve damage

Nerve damage (neuropathy) For many people, the cause of nerve pain cannot be identified even after extensive testing. This is called unexplained (idiopathic) nerve pain, or idiopathic neuropathy. Unexplained nerve pain may still be due to nerve damage that occurred at some point, but current medical knowledge and testing can’t say how, when or why.

Symptoms of unexplained nerve pain: Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, like diabetic neuropathy, usually causes numbness in the hands and feet. The numbness may go unnoticed if it causes no pain. Nerve pain in idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is usually in the feet and legs but can also be in the hands and arms. People describe their unexplained nerve pain in different ways:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles
  • Crawling
  • Electrical shocks

Simple touching can cause nerve pain, it may be constant even when there’s no stimulation. Often unexplained nerve pain is worst at night, this can compound the problem because people need adequate sleep in order to cope with pain.

How is nerve pain and nerve damage treated? In many instances, nerve damage cannot be cured entirely. But there are various treatments that can reduce your symptoms. Because nerve damage is often progressive, it is important to consult with your GP when you first notice symptoms. That way you can reduce the likelihood of permanent damage. Often, the first goal of treatment is to address the underlying condition that’s causing your nerve pain or nerve damage. This may mean:

  • Regulating blood sugar levels for people with diabetes
  • Correcting nutritional deficiencies
  • Changing medications when drugs are causing nerve damage
  • Physiotherapy or surgery to address compression or trauma to nerves
  • Medication to treat autoimmune conditions

Additionally, your GP may prescribe medications aimed at minimising the nerve pain you are feeling. This may include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Certain anti-seizure medications

Complementary and alternative approaches may also help alleviate your nerve pain and discomfort. These include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation

 

Seeking medical care for unexplained nerve pain Anyone who has nerve pain should get a full physical examination by a doctor. Get checked for diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure. Get evaluated for recent viral illnesses and toxins to which you may have been exposed. Discuss your full family medical history with your doctor. Medical therapies are available to treat unexplained nerve pain, and it’s worthwhile discussing them with your doctor. But while medication can help, they often can’t completely eliminate the pain.

Further information:
Diabetes UK – www.diabetes.org.uk/nerve pain
Nhs –
www.nhs.uk/nerve-pain
U.S Department of health – www.niddk.nih.gov/nervepain
Contact your local GP for further help and information

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