Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, happens when your nervous system is malfunctioning, either due to nerve damage or other health conditions. Nerve pain can be difficult to diagnose and treat since there are many possible causes. Luckily, people who suffer from nerve pain can find relief through many different treatment options, including chiropractic care.
What Is Nerve Pain?
The nervous system has two different components: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system comprises all the nerves that spread throughout the rest of the body and into the extremities.
The nervous system is responsible for sending signals throughout the body. When it’s not working correctly or has sustained damage, nerves send the wrong signals to the brain, causing nerve pain.
Nerve pain can be spontaneous, meaning it comes without stimulation. It can feel like a shooting, stabbing, or burning pain; numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles feeling may also occur.
Neuropathic pain can also include evoked pain, which is brought on by normally non-painful stimuli including gentle brushing or pressure against the skin. Evoked pain may also mean normally painful stimuli, such as heat or pinpricks, are even more painful.
People with nerve pain may also have trouble sleeping and emotional problems caused by lack of sleep and pain.
In order to figure out the cause of nerve pain, your healthcare provider will go over your medical history and perform a physical exam in order to find the underlying issue and trace the symptoms.
About 30 percent of all neuropathic pain is caused by diabetes, but there are many other medical conditions and other factors that can cause nerve pain, including:
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Disorders affecting the central nervous system including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Amputation, which can cause phantom pain
- Spinal nerve inflammation or compression
- Trauma or surgeries with resulting nerve damage
- Nerve compression by tumors
When treating nerve pain, the goals are to provide pain relief, maintain functionality, and improve the quality of life for the patient along with treating the underlying disease causing the pain. Usually, multimodal therapy, which includes medications, psychological counseling, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery, is needed to treat nerve pain.
Topical treatments like patches, ointments, or creams that contain capsaicin or lidocaine can relieve nerve pain. Opioid analgesics, however, are less effective in treating neuropathic pain, and their negative effects may prevent long-term use.
Nerve blocks given by pain specialists can also relieve neuropathic pain. These treatments include the injection of steroids or anesthetics into the affected nerves.
If nerve pain has not responded to these treatments, spinal cord stimulation, brain stimulation, and peripheral nerve stimulation might help.
Pinched nerves occur when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding cartilage, bones, tendons, or muscles. With sciatica, the sciatic nerve in the lower back is compressed by a herniated disk or bone spur on the spine. Chiropractic treatment can ease some of the pressure on the nerve, therefore decreasing neuropathic pain.
The best way to prevent neuropathic pain is to manage medical conditions that increase your risk of developing it. The details of prevention depend on the specific condition you have, but in general, the following actions help promote nerve health:
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Ensure you get enough vitamin B-12 by eating meats, eggs, fish, low-fat dairy products, and fortified cereals.
- Exercise regularly (with permission from your doctor). At least 30 minutes of exercise three times per week is a good rule of thumb.
- Avoid factors that may cause nerve damage, including smoking, repetitive motions, exposure to toxic chemicals, and excessive alcohol use.
Nerve Pain Treatment at Elevate Wellness
At Elevate Wellness, we provide comprehensive chiropractic care for all kinds of musculoskeletal issues, not just nerve pain. If you have lower back pain, headaches or migraines, neck pain or whiplash, injuries related to an auto accident, or sports injuries, we can help you find relief through a personalized care plan and get you back to normal.
To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office in Bountiful, Utah. We can’t wait to help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life!