Pain Types and Classifications
Pain Caused by Nerve Damage continued...
Nerves can be damaged by diseases such as diabetes, or they can be damaged by trauma. Certain chemotherapy drugs may cause nerve damage. Nerves can also be damaged as a result of stroke or an HIV infection, among other causes. The pain that comes from nerve damage could be the result of damage to the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. Or it could result from damage to peripheral nerves, those nerves in the rest of the body that send signals to the CNS.
The pain caused by nerve damage, neuropathic pain, is often described as burning or prickling. Some people describe it as an electrical shock. Others describe it as pins and needles or as a stabbing sensation. Some people with nerve damage are often hypersensitive to temperature and to touch. Just a light touch, such as the touch of a bed sheet, can set off the pain.
Much neuropathic pain is chronic. Examples of pain caused by damaged nerves include:
Central pain syndrome. This syndrome is marked by chronic pain that stems from damage to the central nervous system. The damage can be caused by stroke, MS, tumors, and several other conditions. The pain, which is typically constant and may be severe, can affect a large part of the body or be confined to smaller areas such as the hands or feet. The pain often can be made worse by movement, touch, emotions, and temperature changes.
Complex regional pain syndrome. This is a chronic pain syndrome that can follow a serious injury. It's described as persistent burning. Certain abnormalities such as abnormal sweating, changes in skin color, or swelling may be noticed in the area of the pain.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain. This pain comes from nerve damage in the feet, legs, hands, or arms caused by diabetes. Individuals with diabetic neuropathy experience various kinds of pain including burning, stabbing, and tingling.
Shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Shingles is a localized infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash and associated pain, which can be debilitating, occurs on one side of the body along the path of a nerve. Postherpetic neuralgia is a common complication in which the pain from shingles lasts more than a month.
Trigeminal neuralgia. This condition causes pain as a result of inflammation of a facial nerve. The pain is described as intense and lightning like, and it can occur in the lips, scalp, forehead, eye, nose, gums, cheek, and chin on one side of the face. The pain can be set off by touching a trigger area or by slight motion.