Neuropathic pain is an unpleasant sensation that normally occurs as a result of a stimulus such as extreme heat or an injury. It's the body's way of warning that it is being damaged - or may be damaged - so that the cause of the pain can be avoided or removed.
The body feels pain through special nerve endings called 'nociceptors' that are found in the skin and throughout the body. When these nerve endings are activated - for instance, by touching a sharp knife blade - they send a message to the brain, via pain channels in the nerves, to warn of possible injury. This type of pain is called nociceptive pain.
Sometimes the feelings of pain can be caused by damage to the nerves that send pain messages to the brain. This is a different kind of pain known as neuropathic pain. This type of pain is usually long lasting and persistent which makes it very difficult to live with.
- Shooting and burning pain
- Tingling and numbness
- Sharp pain as though being jabbed
Neuropathic Pain in varies a great deal and therefore different people will experience different sensations of pain. Nevertheless, doctors can distinguish it from other causes of pain as patients usually report a range of unusual and unpleasant sensations that are characteristic of neuropathic pain. People with neuropathic pain feel a variety of pain types; some words often used to describe their pain are:
- deep aching
- like sunburn
- broken glass
- Back, leg, and hip problems
- Facial nerve problems
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spine surgery
Although the exact causes of neuropathic pain are not fully understood, it is known that the damaged nerves do not function correctly and continue to send pain signals to the brain when there is no stimulus for pain. This is clearly demonstrated in 'phantom limb syndrome', a condition in which a person who has had a limb amputated keeps feeling pain where the limb used to be.
If you are already suffering from neuropathic pain and looking for treatment or seeking a doctor's help, click here.