Nerve Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
by AZ Pain Doctors, on Mar 11, 2021 1:05:00 PM
Is chronic pain getting on your last nerve? You're not alone.
There are over 100 different types of nerve damage. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral nerve damage, while 70% experience nerve pain from diabetes.
From Glendale to Sun City, people all over Arizona are experiencing nerve pain. But what is the reason for your nerve damage, and can it be treated?
We have answered all of your questions below.
What Is Causing My Nerve Pain?
Nerves are connected to the brain. They send messages to signal pain. Malfunctioning nerves create tingling sensations and stabbing pain.
If you cut your finger with a knife, you feel pain within seconds. That is the result of thousands of nerves sending messages to the brain to signal pain. Pain equals danger. When we feel pain, we stop whatever is causing it.
But for those suffering from nerve damage, the nerve messaging system does not operate correctly. The nerves send false signals that trigger pain with no obvious stimulus.
Nerve pain has two common causes: damage and disease.
Physical injuries lead to widespread nerve pain. Anything that compresses, severs, pinches, or crushes the peripheral nerves can cause long-lasting damage. Peripheral nerves are fragile and are easily damaged.
Back injuries that lead to nerve damage can occur on-the-job. Careers with the highest number of nerve damage cases include:
- Warehouse workers
- Construction workers
- Nurses and nursing home workers
- Dentists and surgeons
- Farmers, landscapers, and gardeners
- Carpenters and plumbers
- Assembly line workers
Nerve damage is most common in athletes. High-contact sports like football, wrestling, hockey, and basketball contribute to the most peripheral nerve damage.
Different illnesses and chronic disorders can damage the nerves and create nerve pain.
Degenerative disc disease creates nerve damage that causes lower back and neck discomfort. An intervertebral disc shifts and pushes on nerves that produce widespread tingling or sensitivity.
Cancerous tumors can press against nerves. The pressure makes the nerve signal a pain response. Most cancer patients experience sharp stabs, pinching, or burning sensations.
Diabetic neuropathy is the result of nerve damage caused by diabetes. Extremely high blood sugar levels injure nerves, which results in faulty signals to the brain. Most patients experience numbness and tingling sensations in their legs and feet.
If the shingles virus damages nerve fibers, postherpetic neuralgia occurs. The nerve fibers are unable to send correct messages from the skin to the brain. The faulty signals create burning, stinging, and stabbing sensations.
Autoimmune disorders attack the body's immune system. Some disorders damage nerves, causing pain. The most common autoimmune disorders linked to nerve pain are lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Pain?
Nerve damage can create a variety of symptoms. Symptoms depend on the cause of the nerve damage and what nerves are affected.
In some cases, multiple types of nerves are damaged, which produces an assortment of symptoms.
Symptoms of Peripheral Nerve Damage
Peripheral neuropathy causes:
- Foot pain while performing normal activities (like walking)
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Jabbing or burning sensations
- Feeling like you're wearing gloves or socks (even though you are not)
Peripheral neuropathy can also make the skin sensitive to touch. Symptoms start in the hands and feet but can spread to a person's arms and legs.
Symptoms of Autonomic Nerve Damage
Autonomic nerves transmit signals to internal organs. They are found throughout the stomach, liver, kidneys, bladder, lungs, heart, digestive glands, and blood vessels.
When autonomic nerves are damaged, they create bowel, bladder, and digestive problems. The nerve damage may result in dizziness or abnormal changes in blood pressure. Some people experience heat intolerance, excessive sweating, or the inability to sweat.
Symptoms of Motor Nerve Damage
Motor nerves control movements and actions. They pass information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles.
Damage to the motor nerves causes fasciculation, muscle atrophy, and weakness. For some people, motor nerve damage leads to paralysis.
Symptoms of Sensory Nerve Damage
Sensory nerves (also known as afferent nerves) carry sensory information to the central nervous system (CNS). These nerves respond to internal or external stimuli to produce sensory reactions (like taste and smell).
Sensory nerve damage creates dulled senses. A person may not be able to taste or smell things as easily as before. Sensory nerve damage also causes numbness, burning, and prickling sensations throughout the body.
How Is Nerve Pain Treated?
Nerve pain caused by medical conditions like cancer or diabetes requires treatment targeted at fixing the disease. Fixing the underlying condition can help nerve pain and minimize discomfort.
However, in some cases, treating a medical disorder does not reverse nerve damage. In these situations, patients need to seek additional treatment specifically for their nerve pain.
Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and painkillers are medicinal treatments for nerve pain.
Some doctors suggest taking a combination of antidepressants and anticonvulsants for better results. While opioids work for severe nerve pain, doctors try to stick with over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.
Acupuncture is a holistic treatment for neuropathy.
Needles are inserted at pressure points throughout the body. In a traditional sense, the needles balance energy flows (known as qi) and encourage healing. According to western science, acupuncture ignites nerves and muscles to decrease pain and inflammation.
Epidural steroid injections treat chronic back pain caused by nerve damage. A shot of cortisol is injected into the spinal column. Cortisone suppresses inflammation and prevents the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.
Kyphoplasty can help patients suffering from compression fractures in the spine. Compression fractures pinch and damage nerves along the spinal cord, causing widespread pain. Kyphoplasty eases nerve pain, restores vertebral height, and stabilizes the spine to hinder future damages.
Is Chronic Pain Getting on Your Nerves?
Nerve pain is no joke. It is uncomfortable, persistent, and reduces your quality of life.
But Arizona residents don't have to go far for nerve pain relief.
From North Scottsdale to Chandler, our team proudly provides Arizona with top-of-the-line nerve pain treatments. We are your local experts, here to help you alleviate nerve pain once-and-for-all.
We have offices in Glendale, North Scottsdale, Chandler, Goodyear, Biltmore, and Sun City. Contact us to schedule an appointment at a location closest to you.