Neuropathic pain arises from actual or threatened damage to tissues due to the activation or damage in the nervous system. This can be a disturbance in the function of one or more nerves and is often associated with end organ damage. The pain is often described as burning, numbness, tingling, electric shock-like and possibly deep aching.

  • Diabetic Neuropathy
    • Injury to nerve fibers from high blood sugars, most often in hands and feet
    • Signs/Symptoms (S/S): numbness and tingling
    • Management: control blood sugar
       
  • Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Complication of Shingles)
    • Complication of Shingles that last longer than a few weeks, increased risk with age
    • S/S: burning at shingles site, sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness
    • Treatment: Lidocaine patches, Tricyclic anti-depressants, Anticonvulsants, Opioids, Capsaicin
       
  • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Autoimmune disease destroys protective sheath on nerves, cause unknown
    • Woman between 20-40 higher risk
    • S/S: painful muscle spasms, numbness, weakness of limb on one side, unsteady gait, blurriness, loss of vision, tingling/electric-shock sensations
    • Treatment: same as other conditions for pain, muscle relaxants for muscle spasms
       
  • Spinal Cord Injuries, Hemiparesis
    • Causes: trauma, arthritis, cancer, inflammation/infection, degeneration, strokes
    • S/S: loss sensation/movement or bowel/bladder control, pain, exaggerated reflex
    • Treatment: same as post herpetic neuralgia; TENS units, massage
       
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
    • Causes: trauma & infections; toxins such as alcohol or poisons; Diseases- lupus, Guillain-Barre, lyme; vitamin B deficiency; hypothyroid or kidney disease
    • S/S: numbness & tingling in hands, feet, and many other sites
    • Treatment: same as post herpetic neuralgia; TENS units, massage
       
  • What Caregivers can do to help their loved one with Neuropathic Pain
    • Contact health care provider for assessment fo condition
    • Consider using a Pain Diary to note important information with provider
    • Encourage your loved one to try a non-drug treatment to assist with pain

 

PDF iconFAST FACTS - Caregivers: Neuropathic Pain - PDF Version