Neuropathic pain is a complex, chronic pain state, most often accompanied by a tissue injury. According to various studies, neuropathic low back pain affects an estimated 5.6 million people in the US. The condition is typically characterized by a burning and shooting pain, along with a feeling of tingling and numbness.
The term gets its origin from ‘neuro’ which means nerves in Greek, and ‘pathy’, which means abnormality. In general, pain experts classify the physical causes of pain into two types, the nociceptive and the neuropathic pain.
The nociceptive pain is time limited and results from sprains, bone fractures, burns, bumps, bruises and inflammation. On the other hand, the neuropathic pain is chronic and occurs in reference with the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system.
Forms of Neuropathic Pain
The most common forms in which neuropathic pain manifests itself include:
• Postherpetic neuralgia
• Reflex sympathetic dystrophy/nerve trauma
• Components of cancer pain
• Phantom limb pain
• Entrapment neuropathy (.e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome)
• Peripheral neuropathy (vast nerve damage)
Shooting or lancinating pain, burning pain, paraesthesia, dysaesthesia, numbness and allodynia (pain produced by a non-painful stimulus) are the most prominent characteristics of neuropathic pain.
Causes of Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction of or pathological changes in the peripheral or central nervous system. Dysfunction of the nervous system is the chief cause of occurrence of neuropathic pain.
On an average, neuropathic pain occurs because of one of the below:
• Back, leg and hip problems
• Diabetes / Diabetic neuropathy
• Facial nerve problems
• HIV infection or AIDS
• Multiple sclerosis
• Spine surgery