Neuropathic pain occurs when the nerve fibres are damaged by disease or injury, causing them to misfire and send pain signals to the brain. The resulting pain can range from mild to severe and can be difficult to treat.
Neuropathic pain is usually described as:
• pins and needles
People with neuropathic pain are often extremely sensitive to pain (hyperalgesia). This is NOT to say they have a low pain tolerance, or are faking…they actually feel more pain than is ‘normal’ for the stimulus. So where a typical person might feel mild pain, someone suffering from neuropathic pain will feel it as severe pain. Or even feel pain where ‘normal’ people do not. They might perceive a light touch or gentle brushing of the skin, as severe pain.
Neuropathic pain can be caused by trauma, infection, stroke and it is common in diseases such as diabetes, MS and fibromyalgia.
Neuropathic pain usually doesn’t respond well to opiods. Tricyclic anti-depressants such as amitriptyline (Endep) are often effective, as are anti-epileptic medications.