The nerves in our bodies are critical in transmitting messages from the brain to the spinal cord and then to the whole body through the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Yet, this role can be disrupted because of nerve damage caused by trauma (such as a car accident or fall), drugs/toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cancer.
When damaged, nerves can cause chronic pain that’s difficult to manage. Cases of nerve-damage-caused pain resulting from nerve damage are quite common, considering neuropathic pain prevalence is about 7-8% in the general population. Understanding how nerve damage causes chronic pain can guide you and your doctor when creating effective treatment plans.
How Nerve Damage May Lead to Chronic Pain
When the nerves function properly, they usually send pain signals from an injury to the brain through the spinal cord. For example, if you accidentally hit the door with your toenail, the peripheral nerves send the pain to your spinal cord and then to your brain, which translates the signals into pain. This pain subsides as your injury heals.
However, if the nerves are damaged, your body keeps on sending pain signals even when the injury has healed. Depending on the specific location of the injury, that pain may manifest as a burning or tingling sensation, numbness, or pins-and-needles sensation. Without medical attention, the body can keep sending these signals for months or years.
What Treatment Options are Available?
Chronic neuropathic pain can be difficult to manage. Before any treatment commences, a neurologist assesses the extent of damage using tests such as electromyography or the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation grading system.
The most common treatment pathways are:
- Advanced therapies
- Medication management
- Treatment of other medical conditions, e.g., diabetes
Since each nerve damage case differs, a pain management specialist will work with you to determine the best treatment approach or technique. They may recommend a less invasive but effective intervention, such as nerve blocks, if they determine that surgery is risky.
Living with Nerve Damage & Pain
You may feel devastated after learning that the incessant pain you feel is because of nerve damage. While there’s no cure for chronic pain, you can live a long and fulfilling life by learning how to manage the pain.
Here are some ways to live with chronic pain apart from seeking medical treatment.
- Try massage therapy: Massage can help you improve blood circulation, relieve tension and reduce stress.
- Engage in guided physical activity: The University of Iowa Health Care recommends physical activity, including exercise and stretching for pain reduction, improving functionality, and muscle strength.
- Join a support group: A support group will help you feel less alone and be optimistic about life. If you’re in North Carolina, you can check one of the verified chronic pain support groups.
Get High-Quality Patient-Focused Pain Management Services from Southeast Pain & Spine Care
Nerve damage can cause chronic pain and interfere with your ability to live a fulfilling life. At Southeast Pain and Spine Care, we have double-board-certified medical professionals ready to provide advanced pain management techniques to treat chronic pain and nerve damage. Fill out the form below to get personalized pain management and nerve damage treatment.