Neuropathic pain is the pain resulting from disease, damage or dysfunction of the peripheral or central nervous system.
It may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia, which occur spontaneously and allodynia that occurs in response to external stimuli. Usually patients present with sensation of burn, cold, electric shock, pins and needles. The pain can be continuous or intermittent.
Patients often find it difficult to describe the quality of neuropathic pain as it is outside their previous experience of pain. There may or may not be sensory loss.
Causes of neuropathic pain can be broadly classified has peripheral and central. The common causes of peripheral neuropathic pain are trauma, diabetic neuropathy, alcohol, malignancy, HIV, and post-operative surgical scars. The common causes of central neuropathic pain are prolapsed disc compressing the nerve root, arachnoiditis, post herpetic neuralgia, failed back surgery syndrome(FBSS), trigeminal neuralgia, spinal cord trauma, multiple sclerosis and HIV.
The treatment of neuropathic pain include treating the disease causing the neuropathy and specific management of pain. Neuropathic pain can be managed by medications, interventions and alternate therapy like acupuncture. Neuropathic Pain due to a compressive lesion may be completely relieved by surgery, particularly if there has been little damage. If the pain is not responding to any of the common means, patient might benefit from pain management programme.