Related to chronic pain, neuropathy is a symptom of various spinal conditions that is caused from nerve damage.
What is Neuropathy?
- Neuropathy is a type of chronic pain that occurs from nerve damage. Also referred as peripheral neuropathic pain, nerve pain, or peripheral neuritis, neuropathy can be a debilitating condition and difficult to diagnose.
- Since neuropathy is a chronic pain-related condition, it is not a warning sign for disease, it is a disease. Patients with neuropathy have described the pain as specific and unlike anything they have experienced before.
- Neuropathy should not be referred as a symptom of a spinal condition's healing process; the nerve(s) that are signaling pain is not communicating an injury. Rather, the nerve(s) are malfunctioning and miscommunicating an injury.
- Pain may be described as varying sensations, from severe and sharp to deep and burning. Some patients may be so hypersensitive that a light touch or stimulus may result in mild to severe pain.
What are the symptoms of it?
- Pain that does not go away after 3 months, mild or severe
- Pain that may be sharp, severe, shooting, radiating, electrical shock-like, aching, burning, dull, deep, or throbbing
- Hypersensitive to light stimuli that would otherwise not be painful
- Feeling numbness, tingling, weakness, in the extremities
- Feeling discomfort, tightness, stiffness, or soreness in the muscles or extremities
- Radicular pain that shoots down the nerve path into the arms, hands, or fingers, or the buttocks, legs, feet, or toes
- Fatigue or sleeplessness hypersensitivity or discomfort
- Inability to perform daily activities, withdrawal from social activity, and increased desire to rest
- Mood and behavior changes such as anxiety, irritability, and/or depression
What causes it?
Neuropathy is a type of chronic pain that may be caused by something identifiable. It can result from nerve damage, usually from compression or impingement. Such spinal conditions that may compress or impinge the nerve may include degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, a herniated or bulging disc, or foraminal stenosis.
How do you treat it?
When the nerve compression or impingement is severe enough to cause nerve damage, usually the condition is treated with urgency. Sometimes patients are not aware of the severity of their condition, or may be misdiagnosed, and try to heal with conservative methods of treatment.
Some conservative methods of treatment may include: rest, relaxation, massages, hot and cold compresses, physical therapy, and pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Steroidal medication may also be recommended. Surgery is recommended once severe nerve damage is diagnosed, which sometimes occurs once the patient exhausts conservative treatments. However, if nerves were permanently damaged, the patient may need a procedure that will help them cope with the pain.
Procedures to treat neuropathy usually involve removing the material that is compressing or impinging on the nerves. Discectomy or microdiscectomy may treat a herniated or bulging disc, while foraminotomy may treat foraminal stenosis. Laminotomy may treat spinal stenosis. If you would like more information, and you feel you may be a candidate for a spine procedure, please send us your MRI scan here and we will review it for free.