Neuropathic Pain

What is neuropathic pain?

If you damage one of your nerves, for instance when you cut yourself, you may get severe pain after a while. This is known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia. It is caused by the damaged nerve itself, which starts to send signals (electrical impulses) to the spinal cord. From there, the signals are passed on to the brain, giving you a sensation of pain.

If you suffer from neuropathic pain, the pain is there all the time, because the damage to the nerve does not heal. In addition to this constant pain, you may sometimes get sudden severe pain attacks. This is because the damaged nerve may spontaneously 'discharge' (give off an electric impulse) which you feel as a severe shooting pain.

Neuropathic pain can also be caused when nerves do not function properly (polyneuropathy). This type is often seen in patients with diabetes. Faulty nerve tracts in the spinal cord or the brain may also cause neuropathic pain. Since the problem is then located in the central nervous system (the spinal cord plus the brain), this is also called central pain.