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Top FAQs About Nerve Pain – Part One

Nerve pain is a unique type of pain that can be difficult to understand. While other types of pain have a purpose (to prevent further injury), nerve pain is different. Your nerves are responsible for carrying signals between your brain and the rest of your body, and pain is one of them. However, when the nerves become damaged due to injury or disease, the messaging system can get confused, causing the nerves to misfire. When the brain receives a pain signal, you feel pain, even though there is no real cause. 

Living with nerve pain can be lonely, isolating and debilitating. Understanding what’s happening in your body and the ways you can relieve some of this pain can be empowering. Let’s explore some of the most frequently asked questions about nerve pain and how to improve your quality of life in our Part One series. 

What is nerve pain? 

Nerve pain, also referred to as neuralgia or neuropathic pain, is a specific type of pain that causes burning, tingling and numbness. Sometimes the pain is sharp and feels like an electric shock. You may also be sensitive to touch or cold. While this type of pain can occur anywhere in the body, it most commonly happens in the hands, feet, arms and legs. 

What are the symptoms of nerve pain? 

Everyone is different, which means nerve pain can feel differently among people. Most commonly, it’s described as: 

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles 
  • Crawling
  • Electrical shocks 
  • Numbness 

What causes nerve pain? 

Typically, nerve pain is caused by an injury or illness that affects your central nervous system. These are nerves that run to your muscles and organs from your brain and spinal cord. Common causes include: 

  • Injury to your brain, spine or nerves
  • Poor blood supply to your nerves 
  • Heavy alcohol use 
  • Vitamin B12 or thiamine deficiency 
  • Certain medications 

What are the different types of nerve pain? 

Many types of nerve pain exist. Some of the most common include peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy and trigeminal neuralgia. Peripheral neuropathy is, by far, most prevalent, affecting the nerves in the limbs. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and burning. 

How many people suffer with nerve pain? 

About 15 to 20 million Americans experience nerve pain each year. It is most likely to occur in people older than 60, though it is still common in younger people. Neuropathy is not a U.S. problem, however. Across the world, 1 in 3 people are affected by neurological conditions, and they are a leading cause of disability. 

What conditions can cause nerve pain to develop? 

The conditions most commonly associated with nerve pain are: 

  • Infections like shingles or HIV
  • Diabetes 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Autoimmune diseases 
  • Metabolic syndromes 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Stroke
  • Cancer and its treatments 
  • Trapped nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome 

What are the best supplements for neuropathy?

Some people prefer to take supplements over medications because they have fewer side effects. If you choose to take both prescription medications and supplements, be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the potential for interactions. 

The best supplements for treating neuropathy are: 

  • B vitamins 
  • Alpha-lipoic acid 
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) 
  • Curcumin 
  • Fish oil

Does nerve pain ever go away? 

Unfortunately, chronic nerve pain usually doesn’t go away completely. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but it’s important to keep realistic expectations. The good news is that you can stop and even reverse damage to your nerves, keeping pain at bay. 

How is neuropathy treated?

The treatment for neuropathy varies widely depending on the cause and the symptoms you are experiencing. Typically, your doctor will start by prescribing different medications to see what works. These medicines come in many different forms, including injections, oral pills and patches. Other treatments your doctor may suggest are physical therapy, assistive devices, foot care, TENS, acupuncture, topical creams and even surgery. 

Why is nerve pain worse at night? 

Many people report that their nerve pain gets worse at night. This happens because you’re moving around less, opening the gates to more intense signals from nerve pain. When you’re lying down, you’re also less busy and distracted from the everyday world, giving you more time to focus on the pain. Not sleeping at night can compound the problem since you need adequate sleep to cope with pain. 

Can you exercise with nerve pain? 

Yes, exercise is actually a wonderful thing to do when you have nerve pain. Physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen and releases natural painkillers in the brain. Keeping active can also reduce weight and help you sleep better at night. Certain exercises can even preserve nerve function and promote nerve regeneration. 

What are the safest exercises to do with nerve pain? 

Choose activities that are safe for your body as you don’t want to overexert yourself. Some of the best ways to stay active with neuropathy are swimming, walking, cycling, resistance training and stretching. 

Is there a difference between a pinched nerve and neuropathy? 

If you have a pinched nerve, the pain typically radiates down one side of the body instead of upwards. Usually, pinched nerves can fully recover and leave behind no permanent damage. Neuropathy, on the other hand, is a general term for nerve pain, often with no known cause. This type of pain is usually chronic. 

Do I have a normal life expectancy with nerve pain? 

While nerve pain won’t directly take years off your life, it can make you more prone to falls  and other accidents. Also, the medications you take to manage the pain can also cause adverse effects. However, if you have mild symptoms and are otherwise healthy, neuropathy will not reduce your lifespan. 

When should I see a doctor for nerve pain? 

You should see a doctor when your pain isn’t responding to self-care or over-the-counter medications. There are different doctors you can see, such as your general practitioner, a pain specialist or a neuropathic pain specialist. You may be referred to another doctor, such as a neurologist, to get a better understanding of your pain and what could be causing it. 

How is nerve pain diagnosed? 

Oftentimes, nerve pain is diagnosed based on your exam, which includes a list of your symptoms, blood work and a neurological exam. Your doctor may also order tests, such as a CT or MRI scan and electromyography, which measures and records electrical activity in your muscles. Other nerve function tests, such as a nerve biopsy or a skin biopsy, may be used to diagnose your condition. 

For more information about our Neuropathy Support Formula and Miracle Nerve Cream and how to place an order, contact Neuro Health today

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