You’re overweight, you’ve been warned about A1C levels and the threat of diabetes, and now you have frequent pain in your hands and feet. You don’t remember getting hurt or being sick recently, so what’s going on? You may be experiencing the warning signs of something called neuropathic pain.
What is Neuropathic Pain?
You may feel neuropathic pain if your nervous system is injured or not working properly, and the pain sensations can radiate from any part of it, like your brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. Sometimes, the pain can come from more than one and spread throughout your body. Thankfully, the discomfort can be treated.
What Are The Symptoms?
Neuropathic pain symptoms may include:
- Gradual numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, which can spread to your legs and arms
- Pain that’s sharp or burning pain
- You may have intense sensitivity to being touched
- You may feel pain when you normally wouldn’t, like placing your feet under a blanket
- Poor coordination and falling
- Weakened muscles
- Hands or feet as if they’re wearing gloves or socks when they’re not
- Immobility if motor nerves are injured
What Causes Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain can be caused by illness, medicine, or certain medical procedures, including:
- Facial nerve difficulties
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or other central nervous system disorders
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Shingles (severe rashes)
- Chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin, paclitaxel, vincristine, and others can trigger nerve pain
- Radiation therapy
- Amputation and phantom pain
- Spinal nerves get compressed or inflamed
- Trauma or surgeries causing nerve damage
- Nerve compression or tumors
According to the United States National Institutes of Health, neuropathic pain may affect between three and 17% of the general population in any given year, including men, women, and children. It’s a significant cause of suffering.
Where Can You Feel Neuropathic Pain
Because pain results from problems with the nervous system, you can experience the discomfort of neuropathic pain anywhere in your body. Your brain and spinal cord route messages back and forth, making it not uncommon to experience the pain in multiple locations, often more than one, and at the same time.
- Bodily organs such as your heart, blood vessels, intestines, and others are critical for breathing, digestion, and gastrointestinal functions. One study pointed to the possibility of using heart rate variability as a diagnostic tool for neuropathic pain. Some people also experience vasculitis neuropathy, or inflammation in the blood vessels.
- Arms, chest, and shoulders may be a hot zone for neuropathic pain, resulting in the diagnosis of a condition called brachial neuritis. This refers to damage to the brachial nerves and can also affect the hands.
- Fingers can also experience neuropathic pain, primarily because of nerve compression in the wrist, hand, and fingers.
- According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, it’s not unusual to experience typical neuropathic pain symptoms in your legs or toes.
- You can also experience neuropathic pain in your neck. In this case, mild to severe pain goes from your neck to the back of your head, and is described as cervical radiculopathy.
- If you twisted your lower back funny or otherwise experienced a minor injury, you may eventually get neuropathic pain in this part of your body, too. It’s often the result of a pinched nerve or damaged lumbar discs.
- Muscles throughout the body.
- In some cases, you could be diagnosed with geniculate neuralgia or, more rarely, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, which can result in neuropathic pain in the ears.
- The hips are critical in how mobile you can be, and excessive compression or stretching of the nerves can trigger nerve pain which is uncomfortable and hard to treat. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, this can result in sudden pain in the hips, buttocks, and thighs.
- The spine is a vital part of the nervous system, meaning if nerve pain can happen anywhere, it’s here.
Fortunately, most symptoms linked to neuropathic pain can be treated with medicine, physical therapy, and novel options, including ketamine delivered intravenously through licensed specialty clinics.
Find a Specialty Clinic for Treatment
If you’re experiencing neuropathic pain, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and to learn about treatment options. An existing illness or condition which causes pain may be treatable, with certain medicine or therapy being recommended based on the specifics of your diagnosis. You may also seek out expertise from a clinic specializing in ketamine infusion therapy to treat neuropathic pain symptoms.