How Does Nerve Damage Cause Pain
Damage to the nerves affects how the signals travel.; There may be:
What Is Nerve Pain
Nerve pain, also called neuralgia or neuropathic pain, occurs when a health condition affects the nerves that carry sensation to the brain. It is a particular type of pain that feels different from other kinds of pain.
There are different types of nerve pain, including:
- post-herpetic this can happen after you’ve had shingles and affects the same area as the shingles rash
- trigeminal causing pain in the jaw or cheek
- occipital causing pain at the base of your skull that can spread to the back of your head
- pudendal causing pain in the saddle area between the legs
Living With Chronic Nerve Pain
Pain can affect you in many ways and can stop you doing the things that you want to do. If you have ongoing, or chronic pain, it is normal to feel frustrated about the impact this has on you. The good news is there are a number of ways you can approach managing chronic pain to improve your wellbeing.
Learn more about living with;chronic pain.
Also Check: How To Sprain Your Wrist Without Pain
When To See A Doctor
A pinched nerve is sending warning signs to the brain, so it is important that people listen to them. Anyone feeling pain from a pinched nerve that continues after regular treatments or lasts for more than a few days should report it to a doctor.
There are a few symptoms that require medical attention as soon as possible, including:
- a pinched nerve affecting the bladder
- an inability to grip objects or a tendency to drop things
- nerve damage that causes a limb or area of the body to give out or collapse
Doctors may request imaging tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging or a computerized axial tomography scan, to get a better picture of the nerves and how they are affected. This will help narrow down treatment options, which include painkillers or corticosteroids, physical therapy, or, in severe cases, surgery.
Surgical treatment comes with its risks and complications, so anyone considering surgery should work directly with their doctor to find a treatment plan that is right for their personal needs.
The Signs Of Nerve Damage
Without properly functioning nerves, you are likely to experience uncomfortable or even painful sensations. These occur because the nerves are not able to carry the correct signals from the brain to the spinal cord. The signs of nerve damage include the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Feeling like youre wearing a tight glove or sock
- Muscle weakness, especially in your arms or legs
- Regularly dropping objects that youre holding
- Sharp pains in your hands, arms, legs, or feet
- A buzzing sensation that feels like a mild electrical shock
Nerve damage tends to be worse in the part of the body that was injured. For example, if you injured your arm or shoulder, you may have more symptoms in your arms and hands than in your feet.
Recommended Reading: How To Tell If Your Wrist Is Broken Or Sprained
Spotting The Warning Signs Of Nerve Damage
Nerve damage is commonly thought of as a complication of diabetes, but it can also result after an injury. Nerve damage is also known as peripheral neuropathy. The nerves that are most likely to be damaged tend to be in your arms, feet, and hands, although other parts of the body may also be affected.
When youre injured or have surgery, the nerves no longer get the signal from your brain to transmit sensation. Sometimes, nerves that are only partially damaged can heal themselves. Dr. Jonathan Shults at Coastal Empire Orthopedics offers this guide to help you recognize the warning signs of nerve damage and the next steps you should take.;
Is The Weight Of Pregnancy The Reason Why So Many Pregnant Women Get Sciatica
Its true that sciatica is common in pregnancy but increased weight is not the main reason why pregnant women get sciatica. A better explanation is that certain hormones of pregnancy cause a loosening of their ligaments. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, protect the disks and keep the spine stable. Loosened ligaments can cause the spine to become unstable and might cause disks to slip, which leads to nerves being pinched and the development of sciatica. The babys weight and position can also add pressure to the nerve.
The good news is there are ways to ease sciatic pain during pregnancy, and the pain goes away after birth. Physical therapy and massage therapy, warm showers, heat, medications and other measures can help. If you are pregnant, be sure to follow good posture techniques during pregnancy to also ease your pain.
Also Check: Does Meloxicam Work For Sciatica
Clues To Why Chronic Pain Can Feel Icy Cold
You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license.
UNC-CHAPEL HILL Deleting the nerve circuitry for heat and some kinds of itch enhances sensitivity to cold, report researchers whose findings could have implications for people with types of chronic pain.
The study also has implications for why a promising new class of pain relief drugs known as TRPV1 antagonists cause many patients to shiver and feel cold prior to the onset of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature.
Enhanced cold followed by hyperthermia is a major side effect that has limited the use of these drugs in patients with chronic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, cancer, and osteoarthritis.
This discovery has implications for how we perceive hot and cold temperatures and for why people with certain forms of chronic pain, such as neuropathic pain, or pain arising as direct consequence of a nervous system injury or disease, experience heightened responses to cold temperatures, says Mark J. Zylka, associate professor of cell biology and a member of the University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center.
Zylkas research sheds new light on how the neural circuits that regulate temperature sensation bring about these responses, and could suggest ways of reducing such side-effects associated with TRPV1 antagonists and related drugs.
How Do Nerves Work
Our nervous system is made up of two systems, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system .;
The peripheral nerves take messages to and from the brain and spinal cord which interpret the messages and send a responding signal back down to the starting point.;;
There are three types of nerves in our bodies:
- Sensory Nerves: These receive information on different sensations such as hot/cold, sharp/dull, light/heavy pressure
- Motor Nerves:; These control how the muscles work telling them when, how long and how strongly they should contract and relax
- Autonomic Nerves:; these control things like bladder and bowel function, heart rate and digestion
Damage to the nerves causes them to behave abnormally.; They may stop sending messages altogether e.g. causing numbness or weakness, or fire erratically, sending excessive or incorrect signals e.g. causing pain or pins and needles.
Don’t Miss: Blueberry Stomach Pain
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider
Get immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Severe leg pain lasting more than a few hours that is unbearable.
- Numbness or muscle weakness in the same leg.
- Bowel or bladder control loss. This could be due to a condition called cauda equina syndrome, which affects bundles of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.
- Sudden and severe pain from a traffic accident or some other trauma.
Even if your visit doesnt turn out to be an emergency situation, its best to get it checked out.
What Are The Symptoms Of Nerve Pain And Nerve Damage
With nerve damage there can be a wide array of symptoms. Which ones you may have depends on the location and type of nerves that are affected. Damage can occur to nerves in your brain and spinal cord. It can also occur in the peripheral nerves, which are located throughout the rest of your body.
Autonomic nerve damage may produce the following symptoms:
- Problems with positional awareness
In some instances, people with nerve damage will have symptoms that indicate damage to two, or even three, different types of nerves. For instance, you might experience weakness and burning of your legs at the same time.
Recommended Reading: Can Blueberries Give You Gas
What Are The Symptoms Of Peripheral Neuropathy
If you have peripheral neuropathy, your feet, legs, hands, or arms may feel
- tingling, like pins and needles
You may feel extreme pain in your feet, legs, hands, and arms, even when they are touched lightly. You may also have problems sensing pain or temperature in these parts of your body.
Symptoms are often worse at night. Most of the time, you will have symptoms on both sides of your body. However, you may have symptoms only on one side.
If you have peripheral neuropathy, you might experience:
- changes in the way you walk
- loss of balance, which could make you fall more often
- loss of muscle tone in your hands and feet
- pain when you walk
- problems sensing movement or position
- swollen feet
How Long Should I Try Self
Every person with sciatic pain is different. The type of pain can be different, the intensity of pain is different and the cause of the pain can be different. In some patients, a more aggressive treatment may be tried first. However, generally speaking, if a six-week trial of conservative, self-care treatments like ice, heat, stretching, over-the-counter medicines has not provided relief, its time to return to a healthcare professional and try other treatment options.
Other treatment options include:
You May Like: Is Mobic Good For Sciatica Pain
Foot Neuropathy From Spinal Problems
Nerve pain in the foot often comes from a problem in the back, rather than in the foot itself.; At the base of the spine, five nerves exit the spine and join together to form the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body.; The sciatic nerve travels down through the buttock and the back of the leg, branching out as it spreads further down through the leg and into the foot.
If the sciatic nerve is squashed anywhere along its path, it interrupts the signals travelling up and down the nerves to the spinal cord resulting in pain, weakness, tingling or numbness anywhere in the leg and down in to the foot.;
The two most common problems in the lower back that can damage the sciatic nerve and thus cause nerve pain in foot are:
Support Groups For Neuropathic Pain
Living with neuropathic pain is often very challenging. Support groups can give you an opportunity to meet others who are going through a similar experience. Understanding from others can help you feel less isolated, and you may also be able to exchange tips on coping with pain and ways to manage. Search the internet or ask your doctor about neuropathic pain support groups.
You May Like: How To Tell If Your Wrist Is Sprained
Complications Of Peripheral Neuropathy
The outlook for peripheral neuropathy varies, depending on the underlying cause and which nerves have been damaged.
Some cases may improve with time if the underlying cause is treated, whereas;in some people the damage may be permanent or may get gradually worse with time.
If the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy is not treated, you may be at risk of developing potentially serious complications, such as a foot ulcer that becomes infected.
This can lead to gangrene if untreated, and in severe cases may mean the foot has to be amputated.
Peripheral neuropathy may;affect the nerves controlling the automatic functions of the heart and circulation system .
You may need treatment to increase your blood pressure or,;in rare cases, a;pacemaker.
Prescription Drugs For Nerve Pain
There are many different prescription drugs that may help to reduce nerve pain. They range from powerful painkillers to drugs that were originally used for depression or seizures but can also reduce nerve pain. However, some of these prescription drugs may be addictive, so you and your doctor need to find a treatment plan that works for you without causing you additional problems.
Recommended Reading: Does Ginger Ale Help Stomach
How Is Neuropathic Pain Diagnosed
If your doctor suspects you may have neuropathic pain, he or she will ask about your pain and any other sensations you experience, such as pins and needles or numbness. Your doctor will also want to know about any events or illnesses that may have caused it.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, testing the nerves in the affected area. They may touch the skin in the the affected area with cotton wool, toothpicks or warm or cool objects as part of the examination.
If your symptoms and physical examination suggest you have neuropathic pain your doctor can prescribe specific treatment for this type of pain.
To make a definite diagnosis of neuropathic pain, the underlying cause of the pain needs to be found. Your doctor may recommend tests including:
- blood tests;
- nerve conduction studies ; or
- an MRI scan.
Sometimes a biopsy can help with diagnosis. A skin biopsy or a nerve biopsy may be recommended.
When Is Surgery Considered
Spinal surgery is usually not recommended unless you have not improved with other treatment methods such as stretching and medication, your pain is worsening, you have severe weakness in the muscles in your lower extremities or you have lost bladder or bowel control.
How soon surgery would be considered depends on the cause of your sciatica. Surgery is typically considered within a year of ongoing symptoms. Pain that is severe and unrelenting and is preventing you from standing or working and youve been admitted to a hospital would require more aggressive treatment and a shorter timeline to surgery. Loss of bladder or bowel control could require emergency surgery if determined to be cauda equine syndrome.
The goal of spinal surgery for sciatic pain is to remove the pressure on the nerves that are being pinched and to make sure the spine is stable.
Surgical options to relieve sciatica include:
Microdiscectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure used to remove fragments of a herniated disk that are pressing on a nerve.
- Laminectomy: In this procedure, the lamina that is causing pressure on the sciatic nerve is removed.
Recommended Reading: Does Lidocaine Work For Nerve Pain
Causes Of Pinched Nerves
A pinched nerve typically happens when a nerve is damaged and cannot send regular signals to the brain, which may cause feelings of numbness and tingling.
Also, certain activities and habits can cause a pinched nerve. Sitting, standing, or walking with poor posture may contribute to a pinched nerve.
Injuries from sports or repetitive actions may compress a nerve. Extra pressure and weight caused by obesity may also lead to pinched nerves.
How Do Nerves Get Damaged
Neural damage that results in arm nerve pain can be caused by:
- Mechanical Compression: where there is impingement or compression of the spinal cord or nerve
- Chemical Irritation: Inflammatory chemicals such as pro-inflammatory cytokines irritate the nerve making it more sensitive to stimuli.
Nerve damage may occur right at the origin of the nerve in the neck, or anywhere down in path to the hand.
Lets look at the most common causes of nerve damage that cause shoulder and arm pain.
You May Like: Sciatica Ice Or Heat
Signs You Might Have Nerve Damage According To Doctors
Numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness are just a few symptoms to keep on your radar.
There are billions of nerves in your body. Most of them, your peripheral nerves, are like branches of a tree that spread out all over and transmit messages back to the trunkyour brain and spinal cord. When everything goes smoothly, your brain gets the info it needs so that you can move your muscles, recognize pain, and keep your internal organs working properly.
But when peripheral nerves get damaged, its another story: Walking could become challenging, you might experience unrelenting pain, or you could end up with a serious injury because you had no idea how hot that stove was.
An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral nerve damage, a.k.a. neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Diabetes is the number one cause. Bad luck is number two. Repetitive motion and Lyme disease follow, says Andrew Elkwood, M.D., a surgeon who specializes in nerve reconstruction at The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction in New York and New Jersey.
Other causes include sudden trauma , aging, vitamin deficiencies, heavy exposure to toxins , and infections and autoimmune disorders like hepatitis C, diphtheria, HIV, Epstein-Barr, rheumatoid arthritis, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome. In some cases, theres no known cause.