Older Adults_Bars-Geriatric Pain

FAST FACTS: Neuropathic Pain


Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is a result of damage in the nervous system. This can be a disturbance in the function of one or more nerves and is often associated with damage to major organs. 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 sugar, most often in hands and feet
  • Signs/Symptoms: numbness and tingling
  • Management: control blood sugar

Post-herpetic Neuralgia

  • Complication of shingles and is a burning pain that lasts long after the rash and blisters disappear
  • Signs/Symptoms: burning at shingles site, sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness
  • Treatment: prescription medications

Multiple Sclerosis

  • Autoimmune disease of unknown case; destroys the protective sheath on nerves
  • Signs/Symptoms: painful muscle spasms, numbness, weakness of limb on one side, unsteady walking, blurriness, loss of vision, tingling/electric-shock sensations
  • Treatment: prescription and over the counter medications, massage, muscle relaxants for muscle spasms

Spinal Cord Injuries / Muscular Weakness Affecting Only One Side of Body

  • Causes: trauma, arthritis, cancer, inflammation/infection, degeneration, strokes
  • Signs/Symptoms: loss of sensation/movement or bowel/bladder control, pain, exaggerated reflex
  • Treatment: medications; non-drug treatments may include TENS units and massage

Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Definition: damage to nerves outside brain or central nervous system
  • Causes: trauma and infections; toxins such as alcohol or poisons; diseases such as lupus, Guillain-Barre, Lyme; vitamin B deficiency; hypothyroid or kidney disease
  • Signs/Symptoms: numbness & tingling in hands, feet, and many other sites
  • Treatment: medications; non-drug treatments may include TENS units and massage

What Else You Should Do

  • Write down and share information about your pain with your healthcare provider
  • Use a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the healthcare provider
  • Try a non-drug treatment and document the impact on your pain in your Pain Diary


  1. WebMD. August 23, 2021. Neuropathic Pain Management. Accessed 3.13.2022. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/neuropathic-pain
  2. Cleveland Clinic. December 7, 2020. Neuropathic Pain. Accessed 3.13.2022. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/neuropathic-pain

Revised January 2022

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