WebMD explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment of nerve pain and nerve damage. See nerve pain symptoms, causes, and treatment options. WebMD shows you tips for dealing with the tingling and numbness that may be caused by. Nerve pain can be a symptom of many different conditions -- like cancer, HIV, diabetes, and shingles. Learn more from WebMD about the.
It can happen anywhere in your body, but nerve pain in your legs and feet is very common. Nerve pain can be very unpleasant and may impact your daily activities and sleep. The pain may be constant and ongoing, or it may come and go intermittent. It might be mild or it might be severe. Your symptoms may vary depending on the time of day it may be worse at night or what you are doing at the time.
Nerve pain may sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms such as:. Nerve pain occurs because of damage or changes to your nerves. Common causes of nerve pain include the following conditions. There are many ways to treat nerve pain.
The first step is to see your doctor and treat the underlying cause if there is one. For example, better control of diabetes can also help to improve pain from diabetic neuropathy. The main aim of treatment is to keep you active and engaged in your daily activities. Treatment may include a combination of medication and non-medication options. Read more about non-medication treatments for pain.
It's sometimes used to draw a distinction with polyneuropathy, which tends to involve groups of nerves. Part of the reason medical terminology can be such a briar patch is that terms aren't used consistently or have overlapping meanings.
For example, neuritis means inflammation of the nerves. Many medical reference books say it is synonymous with neuropathy, although neuropathy is increasingly the favored term and has a broader meaning. Neuralgia is pain generated by a nerve, so it can be an aspect of neuropathy, but many neuropathies produce sensations other than pain.
The analogy isn't perfect and is hardly original, but one way to gain a quick understanding of neuropathy is to think of the peripheral nervous system as a complicated wiring system for carrying messages to and from the brain and spinal cord. The "live wires" in the system are the axons that connect one nerve cell to another see the illustration. And, like wiring, those axons are wrapped in an insulating material — not rubber or plastic, of course, but a fatty substance called myelin.
As the peripheral nervous system branches out and the nerves get smaller and smaller, axons of smaller branches often lack myelin. Most peripheral neuropathies are the result of damage to either the message-carrying axons or to the insulating sheath of myelin, although sometimes both occur.
Peripheral neuropathy from diabetes, kidney problems, and excessive alcohol is mainly the axonal variety. The far ends of the longest axons in the body are usually affected first. As a result, symptoms often start in the extremities — the feet and toes, followed by the hands and fingers. At first, there's vague discomfort and a loss of feeling that is sometimes compared to having a sock bunched up in a shoe or the feet having a wooden feeling. As the neuropathy worsens, which can occur quite gradually over many years, these and other sensations tend to travel up the leg and arms in a pattern referred to as "stocking and glove.
In addition to numbness, the symptoms of axon-related neuropathy include burning sensations, pins-and-needles, and outright pain with a stabbing quality. Some people experience allodynia — pain from what would ordinarily be perfectly harmless stimuli like a light touch on the skin. Eventually, the axons of nerves in other parts of the body may be affected, so symptoms are felt around the ribs and chest and sometimes the top of the head. Toxins and some drugs also tend to cause axonal damage, and — particularly if it happens suddenly and in large doses — the predominant symptom may be pain, not numbness.
Guillain-Barr syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, is an example of a condition that first damages myelin, not axons. Muscle weakness, accompanied by a tingling sensation, is the main symptom. Guillain-Barr often but not always comes on after a lung or gastrointestinal infection. Direct physical injury is often the cause of the mononeuropathic conditions that involve a single nerve.
Typically the injury to the nerve comes from prolonged pressure on, or irritation of, a nerve near the skin or a bone.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, is the result of the pressure on the median nerve in the wrist that supplies the thumb side of the hand. Saturday night palsy palsy means paralysis is the colorful nickname for damage to the radial nerve in the arm. The nickname comes from situations when the nerve gets compressed because people have fallen asleep with an arm slung over the back of a chair or tucked under their heads after a night of revelry.
The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy begins with questions to the patient about the symptoms, when they started, how they have changed, and so on. Doctors should also ask about a family history of neuropathy and conditions that are known to cause neuropathy, such as diabetes. Over time, high blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar, and high levels of fats, such as triglycerides, in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves.
Symptoms depend on which type of diabetic neuropathy you have. Peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that typically affects the feet and legs and sometimes affects the hands and arms.
This type of neuropathy is very common. About one-third to one-half of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy is damage to nerves that control your internal organs, leading to problems with your heart rate and blood pressure, digestive system, bladder, sex organs, sweat glands, and eyes.
The damage can also lead to hypoglycemia unawareness. Focal neuropathies are conditions in which you typically have damage to single nerves, most often in your hand, head, torso, or leg.
Nerves injuries can be caused by pressure, stretching, or cutting of the nerve. If your nerve is injured, you may feel numbness, weakness or pain in the injured. In carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure on the median nerve in the wrist causes damage. Or the nerves may be crushed, cut or damaged in an. The most severe type of nerve injury is an avulsion (A), where the nerve roots Less severe injuries involve a stretching (B) of the nerve fibers or a rupture (C).