The nervous system affects every function of the body, consequently, neurological pain generates a wide range of symptoms depending on the location and type of nerves involved. Sometimes the terms “neuropathic pain” or “neurogenic pain” are used interchangeably.
There are three types of nerves that may be involved:
Autonomic: Control involuntary (or partially involuntary) functions like heart rate and blood pressure, digestion, and temperature, sweating.
Motor: Control movements by passing information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles.
Sensory: Relay information from the skin and muscles to the spinal cord and brain where the impulses are processed as sensations and information.
Understanding Nerve Damage
Damage to the autonomic nervous system might prevent a patient from sensing pain in some parts of the body or affect the correct functioning of the digestive system.
Motor nerve damage can result in muscle weakness or actual atrophy, uncontrolled twitching, or complete paralysis.
Sensory nerve damage can result in heightened sensitivity or complete numbness, tingling and prickling sensations or outright pain, and difficulty with positional awareness.
Causes of Nerve Damage
When damage occurs across multiple nerve systems, the range of symptoms becomes even more complex. There are many forms of nerve conditions all requiring different treatments singularly or in combination. It is estimated, for instance, that more than 20 million people in the United States are affected by peripheral nerve damage, which tends to worsen with age and can be linked to specific conditions like diabetes. In almost a third of cases, however, no cause of the nerve damage can be determined.
While an exhaustive list of causes is impossible, some known causes of nerve damage include:
- Autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis, lupus, or myasthenia gravis
- Cancerous masses that push against or crush adjacent nerves
- Compression injuries like pinched nerves in the neck
- Diabetes (about half of the people with diabetes also have diabetic neuropathy)
- Exposure to toxic substance or adverse drug reactions
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Infectious diseases
Treating Neurological Pain
In many cases the symptoms of nerve pain can be reduced, but the underlying damage cannot be corrected or cured. Where there are associated medical conditions, these are treated first, for instance regulating blood sugar levels in diabetics or correcting nutritional deficiencies
Doctors may also prescribe pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. Often alternative approaches are used including acupuncture, hypnosis, mediation, and biofeedback.
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of neurological pain, which includes never pain and nerve damage. Dr. O’Connor, Dr. Chang and Dr. Jordan all diagnosis and treat patients with nerve pain and never damage. If you have suffer from nerve damage or nerve pain and need a specialist contact one of them to schedule an appointment 310-829-5968.