Nerve pain or neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nervous system. The nervous system consists of the peripheral nervous system, the nerves, and the central nervous system, the spinal cord and the brain. What can be the cause of nerve pain?
Pain has an important function in the body. It is a warning of ‘au, the tea is hot, pull your hand away’. With nerve pain, this natural alarm goes off at the wrong time or even constantly.
For example, you get the signal ‘hot’ while nothing is going on. A pat on your hand is very appealing. You feel pinpricks, but there is no pin in the neighborhood.
These are examples where the sensory nerves are damaged. These determine, among other things, how we experience stimuli. Is something cold, hot, painful or pleasant to feel?
If a sensory nerve is damaged, it can lead to acute or chronic pain in all kinds of gradations. There are more forms of nerve pain and the symptoms and symptoms vary from person to person.
The causes also vary. The 7 most important ones are:
1. An accident or an operation
Scar pain after an operation or phantom pain after amputation. In the latter case, the area in the brain that controlled the part of the body is still active, while the part of the body is no longer there. This can cause acute or chronic pain. Many people with paraplegia also suffer from nerve pain.
2. Press or damage a nerve
If a nerve comes under pressure, a ‘shooting’ pain may occur. For example, with a hernia or pain with a tumor. This form of nerve pain is called neuralgia. Sciatica is also a well-known example of this. The sciatic nerve is then irritated, for example by heavy lifting.
Certain infections can affect the nervous system, for example Lyme disease, HIV and shingles. 10 to 15 percent of people with shingles , for example, get nerve pain, especially patients over 50.
4. Harmful substances
The nervous system can also be damaged by substances that you ingest. The best-known example is chemotherapy. Many cancer patients get nerve pain. This can be the result of an operation or the form of cancer that the patient has. But there is also a group of patients whose pain is the result of chemotherapy .
5. Excessive use of alcohol
Alcoholism can lead to a serious, long-term shortage of nutrients and thus damage the nervous system.
6. Diabetes (diabetes)
About 25 percent of diabetic patients suffer from nerve pain. The increased blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) damages the nerves, especially in the feet and hands. In addition to pain, diabetes is also a danger. Wounds are overlooked by patients and become larger and can start to ignite.
7. Damage to the central nervous system
Multiple sclerosis , bleeding in the spinal cord or cerebral infarction may also cause nerve pain.
Go to the doctor
Unfortunately, nerve pain is not always easy to trace to one of these causes. In order to be able to make the diagnosis as good as possible, a doctor not only asks about the type of pain, but also about the medical history of the person who suffers from it.
It is important to go to the doctor for pain complaints. With nerve pain, self-care medications (medicines that you can buy without a prescription) usually do not help and timely, adequate treatment can prevent a lot of suffering.