Neuralgia is a severe pain that is the result of a damaged nerve. Although it is possible to obtain a damaged nerve anywhere in the body, neuralgia is most likely to occur in the face and neck. The pain from neuralgia is described as stabbing and burning. Oftentimes, the cause for the pain is unknown, although at times it can be the result of an underlying medical condition.
Types of Neuralgia
There are several different types of Neuralgia, such as the following:
- Postherpetic Neuralgia: Occurs as a complication from shingles and may affect any nerve in the body.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia: This type of neuralgia is most common in the elderly and is associated with pain from the trigeminal nerve which runs from the brain to the face.
- Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia: The glossopharyngeal nerve is found in the throat and produces throat and neck pain.
Causes of Neuralgia
In order to understand neuralgia, it is important to understand how your nerves work. Each nerve is protected by a special coating called the myelin sheath. When the myelin sheath wears away from the nerve, or is damaged, the result is painful neuralgia. Many times, it is difficult to find a cause for this damage. However, causes may include:
- Old age
- Infection such as shingles
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Pressure on the nerves from bones, ligaments, tumors, blood vessel, etc.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Certain medications
- Chemical irritation
If the neuralgia symptoms are accompanied by a red, blistering rash on the back, abdomen, face or neck, you may be suffering from shingles. If you suspect you have shingles, contact your doctor immediately for evaluation and treatment.
In order to diagnose neuralgia, your doctor will perform a physical examination to pinpoint the location of the pain and to determine the nerve that is causing your pain. Be prepared to answer questions such as where your pain is located and how long you have been experiencing the pain. If you are taking medications, be sure to mention it to your doctor.
If necessary, your doctor may request a dental exam or order certain tests. Blood sugar levels and kidney function may be tested by drawing blood. At times, an MRI or nerve conduction velocity test may be needed. Your doctor will discuss the test and the reasoning behind the test with you in detail at your appointment.
Although there is no cure, your doctor will work to improve your neuralgia. If your doctor is able to determine the underlying cause of the neuralgia, they will work to treat the cause. In the case that a cause can not be found, your doctor will work with you to manage the pain associated with the neuralgia. Treatment options will vary on a case by case basis, but may include the following:
- Physical Therapy
- Control of blood sugar levels (in diabetes-caused neuralgia)
- Nerve block
- Pain medications
Schedule an Appointment Today!
If you are experiencing neuralgia, do not live in pain. Schedule an appointment with The Physicians today to be evaluated by one of our experts. Through conservative treatment methods, our goal is to help you get back to living a pain free life.